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April 28, 2016 | Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Going through reconstruction changes things – usually for the better – but any change comes with uncertainty. Most reconstructive surgeries, even those done for trauma, start with a surgical consultation. This is your time to ask the physician questions about your reconstruction since many of the answers depend on the type procedure you need. Someone undergoing jaw rebuilding would have different expectations and concerns than a woman getting breast reconstruction surgery.
If possible, sit down prior to your consult and make a list of questions, so you are prepared to meet the surgeon. How long will you be in the hospital, for instance? The answer is different for each procedure.
There are many different techniques for common reconstructions, too. A woman undergoing breast reconstruction may have a procedure that tunnels muscle, fat, blood vessels and soft tissue from the back to the front of the chest to support an implant. This creates a more natural looking breast, but it is just one type of breast reconstruction available. How you will look after surgery is directly connected to the type of procedure used.
It is safe to say all types of reconstructive surgery will require some recovery time. Even simple procedures like wound closing need time to heal. A person undergoing spinal reconstruction can expect to be in the hospital for four to six days and undergo extensive physical therapy afterwards. Someone with a wound closure usually leaves the same day.
Most procedures require aftercare, too. The doctor may provide medication to control the pain and improve healing. Some patients that undergo breast reconstruction have drains in place for days after the procedure. It may be up to eight weeks before you start to feel normal again after any reconstruction, however.
All types of reconstructive surgery will require some recovery time. Even simple procedures like wound closing need time to heal.
There are risks with any surgical procedures. For reconstructive surgeries, they can include:
An accumulation of blood or clear fluid around the incision site
Rejection of any implants used
Occasionally, a patient may have a reaction to general anesthesia, too, though this is rare. Breast Cancer.org reports only one in every 200,000 surgery patients have a life-threatening reaction to the anesthesia used. There are risk factors associated with specific types of reconstruction, as well, such as lymphedema with breast surgery.
The most important thing you can do when faced with the possibility of reconstructive surgery is ask lots of questions. This gives you answers specific to your condition and the surgical technique the doctor will use to help you. If you have questions about recovery time or risks associated with a surgical technique, give us a call to set up a consultation.
Dr. Jensen, a native to Utah, earned his doctorate of medicine from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota, after graduating Cum Laude from Brigham Young University with a B.A. in Russian. He completed his General Surgery residency and then a Plastic Surgery fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. Training under many of the top plastic surgeons in the nation, Dr. Jensen has gained expertise in many areas of reconstructive surgery. He is an American Board of Surgery certified physician as well as a certified member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.