How Long is Swelling Normal After Double Free Flap Reconstruction?

I have had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate free flap reconstruction. I am almost 4 weeks out from surgery and am still experiencing a lot of swelling in the abdomen and breasts. How long can I expect the swelling to continue?

Doctor Answers 3

Selling after Bilateral Free Flap Breast Reconstruction

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The bilateral free flap procedure you describe has several components that leads to the swelling you describe.  There is the mastectomies, the abdominal procedure and then placement of the flaps onto the chest to form the new breasts.  These procedures alone would take time to recover from.   When you put them all together then it is a significant amount of healing that depends on the patient, their personal health, their ability to have a proper diet after surgery and get enough rest after their procedure.  Prior to your procedure surgeons discuss that there can be a lengthy recover.  Two to three months is common.

Please discuss it with your surgeon

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The amount swelling post surgery will vary from patient to patient and amount of surgery. You should visit your surgeon for follow up.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

Bilateral free flap breast reconstruction is a major operation.

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You have had a major procedure and are still very much in the early stages of recovery.  I normally tell poeple that things don't start to settle until around 3 months, and can take 6-12 months to fully setlle.  Don't worry if you still have swelling at this stage - it is normal.


Try not to overdo things and I would hope that you will be in regular contact with your surgeon to make sure that things are progressing to his or her satisfaction.

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