What is the recovery process and timeframe for a mastectomy?

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DrAttai (Physician - Surgery - Breast (Verified) ) - 04 / 02 / 2012

It depends on the patient and if reconstruction is performed, and what type of reconstruction. If a mastectomy without reconstruction is performed, usually a 24-48 hour hospital stay is required, and a patient is discharged with drainage tubes in place. The drains are usually removed after about 7-10 days, but may stay in place longer depending on the amount of fluid that is being produced. Overall recovery in terms of return to work and other normal activities can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks up to 6-8 weeks.

If reconstruction is performed using tissue expanders or implants, the recovery is similar to that of a mastectomy without reconstruction but the initial pain is usually more as the tissue expanders or implants are placed underneath the pectoralis muscle. If reconstruction using muscle or fatty tissue is performed, the hospital stay is usually 3-5 days, and may include an intensive care unit stay; overall recovery is typically 6-8 weeks and sometimes longer.
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