Tips to Minimize Swelling After Breast Reconstruction

By Ravi Tandon, M.D. on April 06, 2019

A woman checking her breast for lumpsAfter battling breast cancer or recovering from a serious injury to the chest, women in the greater New Orleans, LA area can count on Dr. Ravi Tandon. An experienced cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Tandon can rebuild the breasts and nipples with natural results.

Many of our patients have questions about managing side effects after breast reconstruction surgery. We’d like to take a moment to offer some advice on reducing swelling after the procedure. This advice has helped many of our breast reconstruction patients improve their comfort following the surgery.

Focus on Rest After Surgery

Rest can make all the difference when it comes to surgery results and overall patient experience. Be sure to take time off from work and to really focus on getting rest after your surgery is performed. Avoid strenuous physical activities, and make sure you don’t force yourself to return to normal activities too soon.

That said, patients are encouraged to walk just a little bit each day after surgery. It will help with blood circulation and prevent blood clots from forming in the legs, a common hazard as people recovery from surgical procedures.

Make Sure You Are Elevated

Avoid lying down flat after your breast reconstruction surgery for the first weeks. Instead, try to keep your body propped up with pillows while you rest. Ideally, a 25 degree to 45 degree angle is ideal. This will prevent gravity from affecting the shape and contour of the breasts as you heal, and will also prevent your breasts from being pulled or shifted as you are recovering.

Wear a Surgical Bra

A surgical bra helps compress the breasts after surgery, holding them snugly and firmly to your body. This can reduce swelling of the breasts and chest, and it tends to improve the overall cosmetic results of breast reconstruction surgery as well. This comfort and support should not be discounted.

Use Cold Compresses as Needed

To address pain and swelling, patients can carefully apply ice packs and cold compresses around the breasts as needed. Avoid laying compresses directly on the breasts or pressing the packs to the breasts as this can affect incision sites and healing. Leave the ice pack on for about 20 minutes and then take it off for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed to ensure optimal results are achieved.

Monitor Surgical Drains

Drains are often placed after major breast and body contouring surgeries to help remove fluid that accumulates in the surgical site. Be sure to monitor the drains based on your surgeon’s orders. Remove excess fluid in the body, and be sure to note any irregularities to the fluid that may cause you alarm.

Avoid Hot Baths and Showers

Hot baths and showers can increase swelling and inflammation of the breasts. Make sure to use warm water when taking sponge baths after surgery, and continue to use warm but not hot water as you return to regular bathing. You should also avoid saunas and hot tubs for a few weeks as you recover to be on the safe side.

Attend All Follow-Up Visits with Your Surgeon

Breast reconstruction patients will have several follow-up visits with their surgeons in order to monitor recovery and overall results. Be sure to attend all of these additional visits as scheduled to ensure proper healing.

What to Do If Swelling Gets Worse or Does Not Improve

If your swelling gets worse or does not improve as you are recovering, be sure to contact your surgeon as soon as possible. This could be the sign of complication that requires professional attention.

Contact Our Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery Center

For more information about the side effects after breast surgery and what you can do to keep them under control, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon. The team at Tandon Plastic Surgery is here to help. You can reach our team by phone at (504) 455-1000.

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