How Long Does Breast Reconstruction Last?

How Long Do the Results of a Breast Reconstruction Last?

There are many factors that may contribute to the longevity of breast reconstruction. Like all surgeries, the changes achieved are permanent. Surgery, however, does not stop the natural aging process or the effects of gravity.  Additionally, any breast implants will need to be replaced on average every 15 years.

 What Factors Can Affect the Results of the Surgery?

Age – The age at which a patient undergoes breast reconstruction will ultimately affect how long the surgery lasts. A younger woman who has surgery and subsequently gives birth may see changes over time because of hormones during and after pregnancy. Genetics also plays a large factor in the aging process of both the skin and underlying tissues.

Type of Reconstruction – Implant-based surgery is a common type of breast reconstruction. On average, today’s breast implants are designed to last 15+ years, with the chance of rupture increasing by one percent each year. The older your implants are, the greater your risk of rupture or other complications. Every patient is different. The life of your implants will depend on your body and how you take care of your implants.

Reconstruction using autologous tissue, such as DIEP-flap reconstruction, addresses another part of the body in combination with the breasts. In the case of DIEP-flaps, it is the abdomen. Weight fluctuations can affect both the area the tissue is taken from and the area it is transferred to. Maintaining a stable weight post-reconstruction will help ensure the longevity of the results achieved.

Surgical Technique – Each plastic surgeon may approach a patient’s breast surgery differently. Therefore, the technique they employ to achieve a certain result will have an impact on the longevity of the surgical results. Simply placing large breast implants in an older patient who may also need a breast lift is an example of a surgical intervention that may result in less longevity for a patient that may have been better suited to a breast lift with smaller implants. 

Post-Surgery Lifestyle & Health

Breast reconstruction recovery is usually less significant than anticipated.  Patients can return to work in 2-3 days, if activity restrictions are respected.  You can expect to feel chest pressure and tightness for several days, but NO sharp chest pain.  Pain medications are provided and should be used as needed during the immediate post-operative period.

Lower body exercises such as spinning, and speed walking can be resumed after 2-3 weeks.  Use of the upper body, pectoralis muscles, and core training can be resumed at 4 to 6 weeks.  No heavy lifting (greater than 10 lbs.) for 6 weeks.

You are likely to feel tired and sore for a week after implant surgery, or longer after a flap procedure (which will leave you with 2 surgical sites). Your doctor will give you medicines to help control pain and other discomforts.

Depending on the type of surgery you have, you will most likely be able to go home from the hospital within a few days. You may be discharged with one or more drains in place. A drain is a small tube that’s put in the wound to remove extra fluid from the surgery site while it heals. In most cases, fluid drains into a little hollow ball that you’ll learn how to empty before you leave the hospital. The doctor will decide when the drains can be safely removed depending on how much fluid is collected each day. Follow your doctor’s instructions on the wound and drain care. Also, be sure to ask what kind of support garments you should wear. If you have any concerns or questions, ask someone on your provider.

Scheduling a Consultation with Dr. Maman

The first step to schedule a consultation would be doing thorough research. There are many ways to find a plastic surgeon. Arguably the best way would be to receive a referral from another physician, such as primary care, dermatologist, or OB-GYN. These providers often see multiple patients with good results and can attest to those by referring their patients somewhere. Friends are a secondarily good referral source, especially if they are patients themselves. When it comes to advertising, the most essential consideration is the plastic surgeon’s education, board certification ONLY by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and before/after gallery. If those components match your desired outcome, then they would be a good source of information to seek in consultation. You will often come across taglines such as “no downtime surgery” or “no anesthesia required”. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts to SAFE plastic surgery.

The next step would be to contact the office of a board-certified plastic surgeon to find a time to meet them. First impressions last a lifetime, so pay attention when speaking to the receptionist upon calling. Should you decide to have surgery, this is the team you will be dealing with multiple times per month for at least a year. The administrative team directly reflects the surgeon’s ways of working. Another thing to clarify would be a potential timeline for surgery. This is sometimes best done before reaching out to qualified providers because they are booked one to six months out, on average. Knowing well enough in advance will give you adequate time to.