Life After Breast Cancer: Breast Reconstruction

aprile 21, 2022

About 1 in 8 women in the U.S develops invasive breast cancer throughout her lifetime [1] and more than 100,000 U.S. women undergo some form of mastectomy each year to treat cancer or even prevent the risk in the future. Many women who have a mastectomy have the option to rebuild their breasts with a Breast Reconstruction surgery, either at the same time as a mastectomy or after breast cancer therapy has been completed and incisions have healed.

Life After Breast Cancer: Breast Reconstruction

What is a mastectomy?

Women diagnosed with breast cancer or at very high risk may choose to proceed with a mastectomy - a surgical removal of the entire breast. Women who undergo mastectomy may have breast reconstruction, either with a saline or silicone implant, autologous tissue, or a combination of both [2]. The appropriate type of breast reconstruction depends on several factors including age, menopause status, health problems, and type of therapy.

Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy: What to expect

Losing one of your breasts or both to breast cancer is a traumatic experience. However, reconstructive surgery can be life-changing for many women.

Knowing what to expect in the weeks following the surgery is important for preparing yourself mentally and physically. Although each breast cancer survivor will recover at her own pace, this article will provide a general timeframe of what to expect from your recovery as well as tips to care for yourself at home. 

The first days of recovery

Right after the surgery, you will likely feel tired and sore, but you will most likely be able to go home within a few days. Discomfort, soreness, fatigue, and tightness around your chest are normal during the first two weeks. Your doctor will provide you with a definitive guide to your recovery as well as what kind of support garments you’ll need to wear. [3]

Getting back to normal

After the first 2 to 3 weeks, you will start to feel better and stronger each day. Over-the-counter medication can help you ease the pain and depending on your doctor’s instructions, you can start to get back to your normal activities such as walking and working within 6 to 8 weeks. However, strenuous exercise and overhead lifting should be avoided. [3] It’s important to follow your doctor’s care instructions closely to avoid any complications.

Road to full recovery

Without a doubt, the road to full recovery is an emotional rollercoaster. Although the swelling and pain should be minimal at this stage, you will likely feel a lot of emotions about the changes to your body post-surgery. It may take up to 1 to 2 years for scars to fade and tissues to heal fully, but with the right support from friends, family, and cancer support team, most women find the inner strength and confidence they need to live their life as normal. [3]

How long will full recovery take?

While most women return to normal activities within 6 to 8 weeks, it’s important to keep in mind that each woman is different and will therefore heal at her own pace. The type of surgery, the patient’s health, and after-care are some of the factors that impact the recovery period. For a definitive timeframe, it’s best to talk to your surgeon.

How can you care for yourself at home?

During post-op, your body will go through different stages. Caring for yourself during this stage is vital for accelerating recovery, easing pain, and setting up your operation for success.

Medicine

  • Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication to support your recovery. Make sure that you take them exactly as prescribed.
  • If you think that any of your pain medication is making you feel unwell, talk to your doctor immediately.
  • If your doctor gave you specific instructions on how to care for your incisions, make sure to follow them.

 Diet

  • Eat healthy and nutrient-rich meals to fuel your body during recovery. If your stomach is upset try adding bland foods like rice, broiled chicken, and toast until you feel better.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water to stay hydrated

Sleep & Relaxation

  • Sleep on your back with pillows propped underneath your upper back to help blood flow to the surgical site [4]
  • Give yourself enough time to rest. Plan to take a few weeks of school or work so you can give yourself time to heal.
  • If you have kids, plan for assistance in the weeks following your procedure.

Exercise

  • Avoid strenuous activities, high-impact exercise, and heavy lifting
  • Plan for assistance with your housework.
  • Follow your doctor’s advice when it’s time to return to your activities.

Wear

  • Make yourself comfortable with loose-fitting, breathable clothes. It’s advised to prepare your wardrobe before the procedure.
  • Wear support bras to reduce breast pain and swelling for up to 6 weeks following your surgery, according to your doctor’s advice [5]

A stress-free recovery with Calla by Qualiteam

It’s normal to have a lot of questions after your breast reconstruction. ”Do I need to wear a bra after the procedure?”, “What type of bra should I wear”, and “What will be the right size for me?” are only some of the questions that will run through your mind.

Truth is, postoperative bras are critical for your recovery after your breast reconstruction. Apart from increasing blood circulation and preventing swelling, surgical bras provide gentle compression and comfortable support. 

Calla Cozy Post Surgery Bra is a great option for post-surgery because of its breathable materials, easy opening, and optimal support. The bra is wire-free and features a combo front opening with Velcro and hook closures so you can easily get in and out without too much hassle. Made from high-quality, breathable materials, the Calla Cozy Post Surgery Bra provides the comfort, stability, and compression women are looking for after their breast reconstruction surgery.

 


Calla Cozy is also available with pockets to hold a temporary breast prosthesis or bra insert.

Single units of breast prosthesis bra inserts are also available here



 

 

 

 

Feedback from Surgeons: 

Dr. Pagano: "I’ve used the Calla Cozy bra on my patient after her breast augmentation and mastopexy. She found it very beautiful, easy to wear and adjust, and very comfortable, especially in the swollen underarms area.
I will use Calla Cozy bra with all my patients now! "

Dr. Moliver: "Loving these post op surgical bras."

Dr. Manconi: "A bra is part of the procedure. For my patients I require efficiency and safety of the product, comfort and customer service. All aspects present in the Calla Cozy!




What bra size will I need after breast reconstruction?

Finding a bra that fits and flatters your breasts after your breast reconstruction can be a stressful task for many women. The right bra is not only important for support and comfort, but also for enhancing your confidence and making you feel feminine again.

The shape and size of your implants, your bust size, and the intensity of the swelling are some of the factors to take into consideration when choosing your bra size. Our size chart will help you get the right bra size based on your bust measurements. However, if you require some expert advice, reach out to us and our advisors will be more than happy to help you choose the right fit for you.

post operative bra sizing chart

 
There is no international agreement of standardization of bra cup sizes, nor between the various manufacturers of bras. e.g. a cup C in Germany may be different from a cup C in UK, Spain etc.

Calla Cozy overcomes this issue since there is no preformed cup size in the design. Instead we use 4-directional firm elastic material that conforms to the shape of the breasts and is available in 3 sizes (XS-S, M-L, and XL-XXL).
It is important to measure the underbust size, AND consider the increase in breast size which means the size of the implant, usually measured in cc’s.
We have developed a guideline to help choose the best size of Calla Cozy:

Calla Cozy Postoperative bra reference to implant cc size

Examples:
If the underbust band measure is 80 cm and the implant volume is between 300 to 550 cc the correct size would be Calla Cozy size XL-XXL and not XS-S or M-L.

If the underbust band measure is 85 cm and the implant volume is between 300 to 550 cc the correct size would be Calla Cozy size XL-XXL and not XS-S or M-L.

If the underbust band measure is 95 cm and the implant volume is between 300 to 600 cc the correct size would be Calla Cozy size XL-XXL and not M-L

If the underbust band measure is 100 cm and the implant volume is between 250 to 430 cc the correct size would be Calla Cozy size XL-XXL and not XS-S.

 

 

Takeaway

Every woman is unique, and it’s important to find professionals who understand your needs throughout this journey. Knowing what to expect and selecting garments that fit and flatter your new breasts are vital for reclaiming your confidence and learning to love yourself again. Although this article serves as a general recovery guide, it’s important to recognize that each woman will experience recovery differently, depending on the type of procedure, any health problems, and adherence to post-op protocols. Your surgeon will provide you with a post-operative care plan, tailored to your needs and the type of surgery.

 

 

 

Reference List

[1] Breastcancer.org. 2022. Breast Cancer Facts and Statistics.  [Accessed 8 April 2022].

[2] Cancer.org. 2022.

[3] Cancer.org. 2022. What to Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery. 

[4] Moraitis Plastic Surgery - Palm Harbor Plastic Surgery. 2022. Breast Augmentation Recovery Do’s and Don’ts | Dr. Moraitis. 

[5] Demetrius M. Coombs, MD, Ritwik Grover, MD, Alexandre Prassinos, MD, and Raffi Gurunluoglu, MD, Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine February 2019, 86 (2) 111-122





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