What's the Average Recovery Time of Breast Reconstruction for a Mastectomy?

Doctor Answers 25

Breast Reconstruction

This varies a lot depending on what procedures have been done before, and whether any complications have been present in the area.  Four to six weeks and out to 8 weeks is not uncommon to have activities altered due to surgery and recovery.


Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Recovery time after breast reconstruction for a mastectomy

Recovery time after breast reconstruction after a mastectomy depends on the reconstruction technique.

1. For implant base breast reconstruction - stage 1 involves placement of a tissue expander and alloderm after mastectomy - Normally the patient stays in the hospital for 1 to 2 days for this stage1. All the surgical sites should heal and the drains removed by week 3. Patient should be able to return to work by week 3 to 4. Stage 2 involves removal of tissue expander and placement of permanent implant. This surgery is outpatient which means you could go home the same day.
2. For autologous tissue breast reconstruction i.e. free TRAM, DIEP, and SGAP flaps, the surgery usually takes about 8 to 10 hours depending on one or 2 sides. After the surgery, the patient stays in the hospital for 5 days. You should feel fully recovered by week 3-4. All subsequent touch up surgeries are outpatient.

Mytien Goldberg, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Breast Reconstruction Recovery Time

The recovery time of breast reconstruction post mastectomy largely depends on the type of procedure performed. With implant based reconstruction, the average time ranges from two weeks to four weeks back to a desk job. With more advanced reconstruction, using your own tissue (autologous), more time is generally required for recovery, as there is a donor site that has to heal as well. The average time for autologous breast reconstruction recovery is four to six weeks back to a desk job, or light activity duties.


Aldona J. Spiegel, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Average recovery time for breast reconstruction after mastectomy

In general, wound healing undergoes a predictable pattern in the average patient. At 24-48 hours, the top layer of skin begins to heal, and scabs can start to form. At 10-21 days, the collagen is reforming itself, so that the wound can actually be weaker even if the patient is starting to feel better. At 6-8 weeks, most wounds reach maximal wound healing, which is about 80% of the previous wound strength. At this point, patients should be able to return to normal activities. This wound healing schedule will basically hold for all types of breast reconstruction after mastectomy, and for all types of surgery. That said, some patients may feel more or less normal after 2-4 weeks, while other patients may take months to return to their baseline feeling of strength.

Postoperative recovery

Breast reconstruction recovery can depend on the type of reconstruction performed- generally, implant based breast reconstruction will have a recovery time of about 4 weeks.  When using your own tissue (either from the abdomen or the back) recovery time increases to approximtely 6 weeks-- keeping in mind other patient medical conditions, prior radiation treatment may cause healing time to increase... best of luck

Samuel Lin, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Recovery time varies

Recovery is a process that takes several weeks following mastectomies with immediate reconstruction.  This timeframe may be as short as 6 weeks for implant-based reconstruction and more commonly 8 weeks for autologous tissue reconstruction.

Emily A. Williams, MD
Spokane Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Recovery time after breast reconstruction surgery

This is actually a difficult question to answer. It depends on what type of reconstruction you have and how "recovered" you mean by "recovery time". There are basically three ways of reconstructing a breast - using an implant, using your own tissue or using a combination of an implant and your own tissue. Each technique differs in terms of downtime and recovery.

For implant based reconstruction, it is normally a few days in hospital then home with a drain. If the implant based reconstruction is “two staged”, this means an expander was placed at an initial procedure which will then need to be swapped for a proper implant in a second procedure. You need to take it easy for a few weeks and you can't shower until the drains are removed. I recommend no swimming or exercise for 3 - 4 weeks although you should be driving after a week or so.

When surgeons use your own tissue without an implant to reconstruct a breast, they are usually using tissue from the lower abdomen. This is either a “TRAM” or a “DIEP” flap reconstruction. For a TRAM or DIEP flap breast reconstruction, it is a week in hospital then not lifting anything heavier than 2 grocery bags for 4 weeks. No exercise or swimming for at least 4 weeks. Driving after this type of surgery is different for different people, but around 2 -3 weeks for most.

If you are having a hybrid reconstruction using an implant with your latissimus dorsi muscle from the back, most patients are in hospital for 5 - 7 days, and again, no showering until the drains are removed. I recommend no exercise for a month but most patients are driving after a week or two.

I hope this helps

Damian Marucci, MBBS, PhD, FRACS
Sydney Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Recovery of breast recon

this depends on the type of reconstruction.  Expander reconstruction you could be home in one day and back to normal in two weeks.  A Free flap reconstruction you could be in the hospital a week and back to normal in 6 weeks.  

Hope this helps

Good luck


"The above answer has been given without seeing this patient and cannot be substituted for actual in-person examination and medical advice; it is only opinion. Seek in-person treatment with a trained medical professional for appropriate care."

Brian Arslanian, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Recovery time after for breast reconstruction aftermastectomy

It all depends of what type of reconstruction. A tissue expander or implant. The patient will be in the hospital for approximately 1 or 2 day. I f some type of flap was done, the you may have to stay from 3 to 5 days, after this period you will have to recover for approximately 2 to 4 weeks. I will say that by 6 to 8 weeks, you should be very close to full recovery.

Rafael Gottenger, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Recovery time after mastectomy for reconstruction

 The most popular type of reconstruction after mastectomy is a implant based reconstruction. A tissue expander is placed at the time of mastectomy. A second stage surgery is usually performed 2 to 3 months later. This is when the permanent implant is placed.  The initial recovery after mastectomy and reconstruction is about six weeks.

Brian P. Tierney, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.