Breast reconstruction surgery is sometimes performed after a mastectomy (a surgical procedure to remove a breast) in order to restore the shape and appearance of the breast.
Breast reconstruction may be done right after mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), or months or years later (delayed reconstruction) as a second operation.
Types of breast reconstruction surgery
There are 2 main types of breast reconstruction surgery:
To restore breast tissue, the surgeon places an implant filled with saline (salt water) or silicone gel.
The surgeon uses tissue transplanted from another part of the body (such as the belly, thigh, or buttock) to form a new breast.
Why do you need breast reconstruction surgery?
Breast reconstruction surgery is used to reshape the breasts and replace damaged or missing tissue. It is also beneficial in restoring breast symmetry. This means that both breasts will be made to have the same size and shape.
In rare cases, the surgery is also performed to rebuild breast tissue that has been damaged due to congenital problems (birth defects).
While breast reconstruction surgery can restore the shape of the breast, some sensation will return later to the breast skin and nipple.
Breast reconstruction offers benefits such as:
Creating a breast contour
Making the breasts appear more natural under clothing
Removing the need to use external prostheses within the bra
Who should not undergo breast reconstruction surgery?
Breast reconstruction surgery may not be suitable for everyone and is not recommended in women with the following conditions:
Stop certain medications that can increase bleeding, such as blood-thinning drugs
What can you expect in breast reconstruction surgery?
You will receive general anaesthesia so you’ll be asleep and won’t feel any pain during the surgery.
The procedure usually takes about 2 – 6 hours.
During the procedure
If implant reconstruction is recommended, the surgeon will place the implant in your chest.
If a flap procedure is recommended, the surgeon will take tissue from one part of your body and transfer it to the chest.
A thin drainage tube will be placed under your skin with one of its ends sticking out from your chest. The tube helps in draining excess fluid and blood at the surgical site. Your doctor will remove the tubes as you recover.
After the procedure
Depending on the complexity of your surgery, you will spend 2 – 3 hours in the recovery room. After that, you'll be transferred to a hospital room.
Care and recovery after breast reconstruction surgery
You may need to stay in the hospital for up to a week post-surgery. Our healthcare team will take care of you and make sure you're healing properly.
During the initial recovery period:
You may be prescribed painkillers
To decrease swelling, you may be advised to use an elastic support bra
During the first 2 months of recovery, you may experience:
Breast pain, bruising, swelling, or discomfort at the donor site
Movement constraints, such as raising the arms overhead
Breast reconstruction surgery recovery time
It may take around 8 weeks for bruising and swelling to subside.
You might resume normal activities within 6 – 8 weeks.
It may take up to 2 years for tissues to recover completely and scars to fade.
Why choose Gleneagles Hospital?
At Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore, we have experienced surgeons specialising in breast reconstruction surgery. We are dedicated to providing compassionate, life-changing treatments to patients of all ages to meet goals related to body function, outward appearance, and overall health.
Our plastic surgeons and general surgeons
Make an appointment with our multidisciplinary team of plastic surgeons and general surgeons at Gleneagles Hospital who specialise in breast reconstruction surgery. Our skilled specialists will be able to counsel you on your treatment options to help you achieve your desired health outcomes.