After Breast Surgery: Are Patients Prepared for Recovery?

Patients are fortunate to have so many rich information sources at their disposal when it comes to cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.  From outside sources like websites and brochures, or directly from your surgeon, you can learn about what to expect during and after your surgery.  However, some patients are apparently not receiving the information they need.  A recent study published in Plastic Surgical Nursing argues that information about breast surgery post-operative events is “fragmented, incomplete, or lacking.”

By examining interviews with 48 patients, the authors sought to uncover what is missing and report on the informational needs of women who undergo breast reconstruction, breast reduction, and breast augmentation.

They found 2 predominant themes among breast surgery patients: unexpected outcomes and helpful/unhelpful information.  Both themes have some clinical implication for surgeons performing breast surgery – namely, a “need for more comprehensive education to better prepare women undergoing breast surgery and to help create more realistic expectations.”

Positive outcomes were generally reported by patients in the study, but most of them also reported an event that came unexpectedly.  Post-operative swelling, numbness, discomfort, sensations in the skin, and a “just plain weird feeling and uncomfortableness” were cited by participants.  Had these patients received more complete information before surgery, they would have been psychologically prepared for these events, the authors suggest.

Patients in the study also named the most useful information sources that prepared them for breast surgery:

These sources are readily available online, but you should still seek a surgeon who is willing to provide comprehensive information about breast surgery and what to expect during your recovery.  You can read the article “Not What I Expected: Informational Needs of Women Undergoing Breast Surgery” through or the journal, Plastic Surgical Nursing.

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