Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Reconstructive, Cosmetic Surgery

Breast Reconstruction (4578)

Breast Reconstruction (4578) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Reconstructive, Cosmetic Surgery



Breast Reconstruction

This handout explains how to care for yourself at home after breast reconstruction. A nurse will go over this
handout with you. You will see a video showing you how to take care of your drains before you leave the hospital.
If you have any questions or concerns after you go home, please call the numbers listed at the end of this handout.

Your surgeon will create the new breast by either using your own tissue from your abdomen or upper back, or by
inserting a tissue expander for future implant placement.

Planning for Surgery
 Plan to be off from work for 4-6 weeks. It will depend on the type of work you do. Avoid strenuous
exercise for 4-6weeks.
 Do your household and outdoor chores ahead of time or make plans for someone to assist you with the
“big” chores for about 4 weeks.
 Plan meals that are easy to prepare.
 Plan to have someone help you care for your children for 2-4 weeks.
 You may find it helpful to have a family member or friend help you for the first few days and nights that
you are home.
 Plan to take it easy for 3-6 weeks.

While in the Hospital
 You will be in the hospital for 3-4 days.
 You will be in bed overnight with several drain tubes in. Someone will be there to help you when you get
out of bed for the first few times.
 You will be walking slowly and bent over at the waist. You will slowly begin to walk straighter over the
next week.
 You will have “drains” or small tubes placed under your skin near your incisions. These are placed during
your surgery to drain away excess fluid from your reconstructed breast, abdomen, or upper back. The fluid
collects in a bulb that is attached at the end of the tube. This drain will stay in for about a week. You will
go home with these drains in. Your nurse will show you how to care for them before you go home.
 Plan to visit your surgeon in the clinic 2-5 days after you leave the hospital and then weekly for a month.
These clinic visits will be set up for you.

Caring For Yourself At Home
 You may have some soreness at your incision. You may find that you tire quickly. Allow for rest. Slowly
increase your activities with things such as light household duties and short walks.
 Take your pain medicine as ordered. Ask your doctor before taking aspirin, aspirin-containing products,
ibuprofen, herbs (including teas), vitamins, and minerals.
 Wear loose-fitting clothing that opens in front. For the first week or two, you may not want to pull clothing
over your head. This action could pull on your incisions.


 Plan for rest, but slowly increase your activities.
 You may ride or travel in the car for short amounts of time.
 For the first two weeks, avoid lifting your arms above your head. To avoid getting stiff in the shoulders,
you will be able to do shoulder shrugs, shoulder circles, and arm curls.

Things to Avoid
 Do not drive for 2 weeks, or until you can lift your arms above your head. You should not drive if you are
taking any prescription pain pills.
 Do not lift more than 10 lbs. for a few weeks. Ten pounds is a heavy bag of groceries, a newborn baby, or a
basket of laundry. Ask your surgeon or nurse when you can start lifting more than 10 pounds.
 Do not bowl, golf, play tennis, shovel snow, vacuum, sweep floors or do heavy laundry until you have full
arm motion. Ask your doctor when it's okay to do these activities.

Special Care

Drain Care and Incision Care
Your drain tubes will be in place when you go home. You will need to clean your drain sites. You may shower
while your drains are in place. Let the soap and water run over the incisions and the drain sites. Do not soak in the

If you choose not to shower daily, you need to wash the drain sites once a day.
1. Wash your hands.
2. Remove old dressings.
3. Wash your hands.
4. Use soap and water. If you have well water, use distilled water.
5. Clean around the drain where it enters your skin with a swab or towel.
6. Apply a new gauze dressing and tape it in place (if desired).

You also need to care for the drains.
1. “Strip” the drains 2 times a day. Grasp the rubber part of the tubing closest to your body. Pinch it between
the thumb and index finger of one hand. Holding this end closed between your fingers, use the thumb and
index finger of your other hand to pinch off the tubing right below. Move your fingers down the tubing
while you keep it pinched off. The fluid in the tubing should move toward the drainage bottle. An alcohol
swab wrapped around the tubing may make it easier to “strip” the drains.
2. Empty each drain into the container provided at least two (2) times a day or as needed.
3. Measure and record the amount of drainage from each drain separately. A chart to record drainage is on the
last page of this handout. The color of your drainage can range from red to pink to clear yellow. You may
also see clots. This is normal.
4. Check your incision lines and drain sites daily for any signs or symptoms of infection.
 Increased tenderness
 Increased warmth to the touch
 Redness
 Swelling
 Pus-like drainage
 Temperature greater than 100.5 θ for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart


Call Your Doctor
Please call your doctor if you notice:
 Signs of infection
 Nausea or vomiting
 Pain that is not relieved by your pain medicine
 Increased swelling in your reconstructed breast

Phone Numbers
Please call if you have questions or concerns.

Your doctor's name is ; the Surgery Clinic number is (608)
263-7502, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays.
After hours and weekends, the clinic numb is answered by the hospital paging operator. Ask for plastic surgery
resident on-call with Dr. _____________. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor
will call you back.
If you live outside of the area, please use 1-800-323-8942 to reach the paging operator.

The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7042.

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any questions. If
this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used
for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or
others on your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 3/2015. University
of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4578


Daily Drain Record Sheet
Instructions: Fill out the information below for each drain that you have in place. See example below. The goal is to have 30 mL or less in 24 hours
before removing a drain.

Example: Surgery was on a Wednesday. Start measurements on Thursday. Write down the date, amount of fluid emptied in the morning and
evening and totals. Use additional charts if you have multiple drains.
Drain# ___1___ – Location: left breast
Day of Week Thurs Fri Sat Sun Mon
Date: 1/1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5
AM Amount
in mLs:
20 20 15 15 10
PM Amount
in mLs:
30 30 25 25 25
Total: 50 50 40 40 35

Drain# ______ – Location____________________
Day of Week
AM Amount
in mLs

PM Amount
in mLs


Drain # _______– Location_______________________
Day of Week
AM Amount
in mLs:

PM Amount
in mLs:


Daily Drain Record Sheet


Drain #______ – Location________________________
Day of Week
AM Amount
in mLs:

PM Amount
in mLs:


Drain #______ – Location________________________
Day of Week
AM Amount
in mLs:

PM Amount
in mLs:


Drain #______ – Location________________________
Day of Week
AM Amount
in mLs:

PM Amount
in mLs: