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Preparing for breast reconstruction

There are various things to think about when preparing for breast reconstruction. This includes choosing a breast reconstruction surgeon and planning for surgery. It is also important to have realistic expectations of the likely outcome of breast reconstruction surgery.

Choosing a breast reconstruction surgeon

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Breast reconstruction surgeons may work in the public or private health system or both. They have varying training, expertise and experience in breast reconstruction surgeries. Different surgical techniques will result in different breast reconstruction outcomes.

It is important to ask what experience the breast reconstruction surgeon has in which types of breast reconstruction surgeries.

You have the right to seek a second opinion at any time. A second opinion can help you to clarify information or explore alternative types of breast reconstruction.

To look for a breast reconstruction surgeon in your area, go to the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) website.

"You have to pick the one (breast reconstruction surgeon) that suits you.  They're operating on an intimate part of your body so you've really got to feel that they've got your best interests at heart.  It is not about their agenda or what they're trying to achieve, it is about what you want and you've got to put your whole, one hundred and ten percent trust in them."

The lead up to surgery

You are likely to have a number of appointments before breast reconstruction surgery. Appointments may be with a breast care nurse, anaesthetist and breast reconstruction surgeon.

Tests before surgery may include blood tests and a chest X-ray or scans to check the blood vessels.

You will probably be told to stop eating for 4–6 hours and drinking for 2 hours before the operation to reduce the risk of complications during surgery.

On the day of surgery, your breast reconstruction surgeon will probably draw on your body to mark out where the surgery cuts will be. This will be done when you are awake so that you can sit up or stand up, helping your breast reconstruction surgeon to give you the best possible outcome.

Planning ahead

Having a breast reconstruction will mean having time off work and is likely to affect other activities such as child care. It is useful to plan ahead, particularly if not working is likely to affect your finances.

It is a good idea to organise some help for when you first come home from hospital. This might include help with house cleaning, child care, cooking meals, and getting to appointments. Help might be available through family, friends or community resources.