Through the miracles of modern technology, patients may be able to speed up their recovery time by communicating with their surgeons via text message. As wonderful as it sounds, the program does have some obstacles to overcome.

Breast reconstruction comes with a painful and seemingly endless recovery time that requires multiple visits to the surgeon, which takes up valuable time and money. Through the wonders of modern technology, surgeons are now working with their post-operation patients to not only speed up recovery time, but maintain a personal connection without office visits. This new development is direct connection to the surgeon through nightly text messaging, which was the subject of a recent study.

The Study

The study included over a hundred patients who had undergone breast reconstruction for similar reasons, and two surgeons with similar backgrounds. Half of the women communicated with one surgeon through traditional methods; that is, weekly visits and phone calls. By contrast, the other half were given their surgeon’s mobile phone number and communicated with him nightly via text message about their fluid levels.

Benefits Of Text Messaging After Breast Reconstruction

According to studies done by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the new text messaging method has helped patients recover in half the time. The surgeon and the patient exchange phone numbers so that they may remain in contact should the patient have any questions.

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The main reason for the text messaging option, however, is so that each night, the patients can text the surgeon how much fluid is coming out of the drainage tube that remains in their breasts post-operatively. The surgeon responds to the patient with instructions on proper drainage care. By monitoring the levels of fluid on a nightly basis, the surgeon is able to tell when the patient needs to come in to have the drain removed, with better accuracy than if the patient were to come in for a visit or to communicate via phone call once a week.

The patients also reported that their recovery time was aided by feeling empowered to play a role in their care and recovery post-operation.

Why It Is Not Standard Practice

If the benefits of the text messaging program are proving to be so helpful in post-operation recovery, why has it not be fully instated as the best means of doctor-patient communications? The biggest reason is fear of patient confidentiality.

It is easy for a patient or even the surgeon to misplace their phone, and if it is picked up with the messages still on it, information may be revealed that patients would rather keep private. The second reason is concern over the surgeon’s privacy, as well as lack of compensation for the additional time he would spend communicating with patients at all hours of the day.

Importantly, however, the study proved that patients can successfully recover with fewer doctor’s visits, saving the patient time and money while opening the surgeon’s schedule to help more patients in the pre-surgery position.