When recovering from breast reconstruction surgery, the initial phases of the wound-healing process are expected to take around four to six weeks. Within 3 months, the wound repair is almost as strong as it was before surgery. The entire wound healing process might take a couple of years to complete and for scars to fully mature. This time can be split into four distinct stages that are used to categorize the complex bodily processes that automatically happen during this time.
Other medical issues that also contribute to slow wound healing are diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, vascular disease, and long-term use of certain medications. Infection, edema, insufficient nutrition, and repetitive trauma to the wound can also inhibit wound healing.
Stage 2: Inflammatory Stage
During the inflammatory stage, the body starts to naturally clean the wound and move reparative elements to this area after injury. Damaged blood vessels begin secreting serous fluid, a protein-rich substance containing white blood cells, growth factors, nutrients, and chemicals.
When this fluid is introduced at the wound site, it causes inflammation and other related symptoms like pain, redness and heat. This swelling is needed to prevent infection, restrict blood loss, and it should be localized at the wound area.
This drainage also helps to clean out the wound, clearing away injured cells, debris, and pathogens that could inhibit proper healing. Wound drainage should have a thinner consistency, little to no color and no noticeable odor.
Swelling and wound drainage is part of the natural wound-healing process. Unusual fluid (i.e., cloudy, colored, thick, and/or foul-smelling drainage), as well as excessive or prolonged swelling, can be an indicator of wound-healing problems or infection.
Also, during the inflammatory stage, remember to check your wound daily and change dressings as recommended by your physician. If you have any of these abnormal symptoms, contact your doctor to ensure that you are healing safely.