The procedure | Breast reconstruction

For partial or total breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery, implants or autologous tissue can be used. Due to the extensive experience of our surgeons all kinds of breast reconstructions are available. If an Expander/Implant reconstruction, reconstruction using acellular dermal matrices or a microsurgical autologous reconstruction is the best individual solution for you, will be discussed in a detailed preoperative explanation of advantages and disadvantages.

Where will I be operated?

The operation will be performed in one of the private clinics of Vienna. If you have a preference then we will of course take this into consideration.

What can I expect of the operation?

Your surgeon will always see you before the operation and will talk you through the steps. Markings will be made on your breasts and pictures will be taken for documentation. Depending on the method of reconstruction the operation will be performed under general anaesthesia or sedation.The duration of the operation will be also dependent on the choice of type for breast reconstruction. To reach an optimal result more than one operation like a nipple reconstruction or adaptation of the contralateral side might be needed. After the operation you will have to remain in hospital for the first postoperative period. The drains that are left in your breasts at time of the operation will be removed before you go home.

What are the risks?

In case of an expander/implant breast reconstruction surgery most common complications are the risk of postoperative haemorrhage or infection (1-3%). Additionally implants have a long term risk of capsular contracture or rupture of the implant shell which might lead to the necessity of an implant exchange. In case of an autologous breast reconstruction there remains a risk of insufficient blood supply to the transferred tissue and subsequent tissue failure. Due to the years long experience of our surgeons this risk is kept extremely low. Significant wound healing problems may delay the return to daily activities.

What can I expect after the operation?

Immediately after the operation you might experience pain which will be kept under control by sufficient pain medication. The drains will be removed after the fluid which comes out is less than 30cc in 24 hours. You are allowed to shower as soon as the drains are removed, but should take care not to remove the shower resistant tape covering your wounds, until the postoperative consultation after one week. You are required to wear the sports bra we provide you with day and night for 6 weeks.

What will the scars be like?

The position of the scars is dependent on the scars which result from previous surgeries. Scars are usually visible in the first few months because of the difference of colour compared to their surroundings. Thickness and colour however will disappear over the course of a few months and the scars will be come less conspicuous over time.

How long before I can resume my life?

The time of recovery is based on the type of reconstruction. Most woman manage to return to light activities in the first few days after surgery (depending on physical requirements). Realistically it will take at least two weeks to be able to go back to work (depending on type of work). Sports activities can on average be resumed after 6 weeks. Please listen to your body though; pain is a protective mechanism so if certain movements are painful please refrain from doing them. In the following months the final swelling will slowly disappear and the shape of the breast will change over a course of one year. Therefore and corrective surgery should not be done before 6 month postoperatively. Sometimes unexpected movements still may give rise to sudden twinges, but this frequency will reduce over time. Total healing time is known to take one year.

What is good to know about the long term?

Changes in body shape over time

While a breast reconstruction aims to optimise the current physical situation, the process of aging, changes in lifestyle or variations in weight may all influence the shape of your breasts again. This means that over the course of your life these alterations may result in a situation that is not to your liking.

Breast cancer

International studies have proven that breast reconstruction surgery does not interfere with the recurrence of breast cancer.
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