Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)
Immediately after surgery, you will be moved to the PACU (Recovery Room) for about an hour. As you wake up from anesthesia, you will be closely monitored with frequent vital signs and visual breast examinations. During this initial recovery phase, you will be kept warm, be given pain medication for adequate pain control, medication for nausea if needed, and anti-anxiety medication.
You will wake up with supplemental oxygen in your nose, and a Foley catheter, which is a tube that sits in your bladder and drains your urine for you while you are sleeping and during your recovery. You will not be allowed to drink any fluids or eat while in PACU, as you will still be very drowsy. Your family will not be allowed to visit while you are in Recovery, but will be given updates on your status by your surgeon and the PACU Nurses.
If you have had a flap reconstruction, you can expect to hear a continuous internal venous implantable Doppler signal that the Nurse will check frequently. This will sound similar to ocean waves. In addition, you may have external pencil arterial Doppler checks. sounding like a heart beat. The Doppler signals monitor the blood flow in and out of your flap. These circulation checks will be continued by the Nurses and Doctors throughout your hospital stay.
Once your are more alert and awake, you will be transferred up to your hospital floor. You will most likely have a private room for the remainder of your hospital stay.
If you have had a flap reconstruction, you will go to the Intensive Care Unit or TICU (step-down unit) on the fourth floor for close monitoring of the flap. This includes visual examinations (looking at the flap), tactile monitoring (feeling the flap) and audible signals (listening to the Doppler signals) every hour.
If you have had an implant for reconstruction, you will go to the third floor Med/Surg Unit for your recovery for two nights. The Nurses here will also assess your breast skin by looking and touching, but Doppler monitoring and hourly checks are not needed. You may have a warming pad on your chest to encourage circulation to your breast skin.