Possible problems after breast reconstruction surgery
You may not have any problems after surgery. But it can help to know what the more common problems are so that, if you do have any, they can be detected and treated early.
Once you’re home after your operation, check your wound(s) regularly. Tell your breast care nurse or doctor immediately if you have possible signs of infection, such as:
increased redness or change in colour over the breast, around the scar area or both
discharge (fluid being released) from the wound
a fever (a temperature above 38°C or 100.4°F)
you feel generally unwell.
Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics if needed.
Bruising to the breast and donor site is very common after the operation and usually goes away after about three weeks. Sometimes, about 1-2 weeks after the operation, there can be bleeding and a build-up of blood (a haematoma) in the breast or donor site. This can cause swelling and pain. If you notice these symptoms, contact the hospital for advice.
Fluid under the wound (seroma)
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After your surgery, it’s normal for some fluid to collect in the area around the wound (a seroma). You will have drains in place to take away this fluid. These are long, thin plastic tubes attached to vacuum drainage bottles. They are usually removed several days after your operation. However, after the drains are taken out, more fluid sometimes collects under the wound. This may need to be drained by a surgeon or nurse, using a small needle and syringe.
Usually, pain gradually reduces in the weeks following surgery. But occasionally, women continue to have pain for months or even years after the operation. Pain that continues for a long time is called chronic pain. There are several different causes of chronic pain, and many of these can be treated. If you experience pain and it doesn’t improve, talk to your breast surgeon. They can do tests to find out the cause or recommend a treatment that may help.