Help! Is This Long-Term Pain After Breast Reconstruction Normal?

DIEP flapThis week, Dr. James Craigie of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions when considering reconstruction or pain after reconstruction.

Q: I had flap surgery in October 2010. Since then, I have experienced pain to the touch in that area, all day, almost every day. Is this normal? 

A: I’m sorry you are having pain in your reconstructed breast. If you have not had your surgeon examine you, that should be your first step to get to the cause of the pain. After breast reconstruction is completed, the new breast should not be painful.  Some people who have implant reconstruction can have pain related to capsular contracture or implant rejection.

If I had more details about your situation, I could possibly give you more information. I would strongly recommend that you make sure your surgeon and or oncologist thoroughly look in to the cause of the pain. I would also not wait a long time to do this. Let me know if you would like to give me more info.


Q: I’m considering breast reconstruction. How long will it take for breast to look normal? What are the differences in the different types of procedures?

A: Thank you for your question. All types of breast reconstruction require time to complete and almost always more than one surgery. Depending on the circumstances, some patients may require chemotherapy and/or radiation. If this is the case, treatments can delay the completion of the process. I tell my patients to allow 3-6 months after any procedure for the results to settle and swelling to resolve.

There are generally two types of reconstruction: implant reconstruction and reconstruction using your own tissue. Implants are generally less natural and for some patients, the results are less permanent. Using your own tissue can be grouped into procedures that sacrifice muscles in the body and those that preserve muscle and use only skin and fat. The latter muscle-sparing procedures are our specialty and require expertise in a specific type of microsurgery.                

I hope this helps! Let me know if you need more info.

Dr. James Craigie

Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction

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