MUSC Advanced Breast Reconstruction program

Post-Op

Wound Care

Unless instructed differently by your physician, dressings should be left in place for 24 hours.

  • If you experience continued drainage from the operative site, you may replace the dressing with dry gauze to prevent leaking onto clothing.
  • You may shower 48 hours after your surgery. (No tub baths.)
    • Face away from the shower spray to prevent discomfort and pat dry.
    • If there is any tape on the incisions, it is OK for the tape to get wet. If the tape comes off on its own, you may leave it off.
    • Otherwise leave it on until you are seen in the office.
    • Getting the stitches wet in clean water will not harm them. Until permitted by your physician, you should avoid pool water, ocean water, bath water, etc. These are considered to be “dirty water.”
  • You may have a variable amount of swelling, bruising and/or discoloration at the operative site. This is expected and will resolve with time.
  • Wear the garments (example: bra) recommended by your surgeon. It is OK to take them off for short periods of time (example: to shower, to wash the garment).
  • Avoid heat application to the surgical site (ex: heating pad, hot compresses) until cleared by your surgeon.

Incisions

Most of the sutures are absorbable, but a few sutures may need to be removed approximately 1-2 weeks following the procedure.

  • Expect small amounts of drainage from the surgical site for a few days to weeks following your surgery, especially from the drain sites.
  • Because many areas are closed under tension, small areas may open along the incision sites following your surgery.
    • These open wounds ARE NOT closed with sutures once open.
    • Dressing changes will be needed in order to allow the wounds to heal and these wounds may take several weeks to heal following surgery.
      • If the opening is wide along the length of the incision (and not deep), wash the affected area with soap and water. Next, apply Vaseline or Neosporin and cover with gauze.
      • If the opening is deep, call the office for wound care/dressing instructions. Generally an office visit is not necessary and wound care  instructions can be given over the phone.
  • Do not wear any make up on or around the operative site until stitches are out and the wound is completely healed.

Medications

You may experience some adverse effects from the anesthetic medications that were used during your procedure. These effects will range from grogginess, to fatigue, to nausea, and may last for several days after the surgery. You also may have a sore throat from the breathing tube. Your prescriptions will help with these side effects.

  • Take all of your medications as directed on the labels.
  • If antibiotics are prescribed, take the entire prescription until finished.
  • Unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon, avoid all aspirin and non-steroidal products for 3-4 weeks after your surgery.
  • Allergic reactions to medications will manifest as itching or a rash. If this should occur, stop all medications immediately and contact the office.
  • Some patients have problems with constipation following surgery. If this occurs, try drinking prune juice or taking an over the counter laxative (ex: Colace).

Drains

Care for all of your drains according to the instructions given to you before discharge.

  • All output should be recorded on the enclosed sheet. This will help to determine when the drains are ready for removal.
    • The fluid needs to be recorded every 12 hours on the provided sheet.
    • Remove the drainage plug from the end of bulb, being careful not to touch the drainage spout. Drain into a measuring container. Fully squeeze bulb in your hand and reinsert drainage plug. Record drainage amount.
    • Once the drainage totals are less than 30 cc in a 24-hour period for two days, please call the office to schedule an appointment for drainage removal. (Do not forget to bring the record with you to your appointment.)
  • The site where the drain is attached may leak, and you may need to use a piece of gauze at the site to prevent the fluid from leaking onto your clothing.
  • If you have more than one drain, it is OK that they are draining different amounts from each other. Also, the drainage color may vary from one drain to the other.
  • Make sure that you have no tugging or pressure on the JP drain; this may pull it out of the incision. You can pin the bulb or tie the drain around your waist.
  • The drain should be level or below the incision in order to maintain suction.
  • If you think that your drain is “clogged” try “milking” or “stripping” it.
  • At some point, you may notice a white piece of plastic in your drainage bulb. This is nothing to worry about; your drain will still function appropriately.

Activity

Use common sense. If it feels like too much or hurts, then don’t do it.

  • Avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting. Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds.
  • Sleep in any position that is comfortable.
  • We encourage moderate walking. More strenuous activity should be approved by your surgeon.
  • Do not drive until you have been off pain medication for 48 hours.

Possible Reason for Concern

  • Fever of 101.5 degrees or higher for 24 hours or more.
  • Significant increase in swelling, pain, drainage or redness of any surgical site.
  • Severe pain not responding to prescribed medication.
  • Other symptoms or problems you aren’t comfortable with after surgery.

In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately!
Otherwise, please call our office at 843-792-4700 if you have any problems, questions or concerns. Someone is ALWAYS available 24/7.

You may talk to the following people if you call our office:

Residents
Jason Ulm, M.D.
Josh Farrar, M.D.
Brian Kubiak, M.D.
Cindy McCord, M.D.

Physicians Assistants
Lauren Springs, PA-C
Jill Neumann, PA-C

 
 
 

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