Breast Cancer Reconstruction in San Diego
A breast cancer diagnosis is one of the most challenging experiences that some women will ever endure. And, sadly, this information is something that an estimated one in eight women will experience sometime in their lives.
Breast cancer is the most common disease of its type that affects women, and an estimated 268,000 women in the United States are expected to be diagnosed this year.
Breast cancer can be physically and psychologically damaging for patients. At Coastal Plastic Surgeons, we are dedicated to improving the functional and psychological well-being of our breast cancer patients.
Breast cancer reconstruction restores breast aesthetics following mastectomy or lumpectomy. This surgery rebuilds or repairs the damaged breast using a variety of techniques so that you can move on from your diagnosis and treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Breast Cancer Reconstruction?
Many women experience disappointment and stress due to their breast aesthetics after mastectomy. Breast reconstruction restores feminine curves, enhances symmetry, and allows women to feel more comfortable and confident in their post-cancer treatment physique. This can be achieved with implants or tissue flaps.
Most mastectomies require the removal of the nipple-areola complex as well as the natural breast tissue. Even with a recreated breast, some women are still unhappy with the fact that they no longer have a natural nipple. Nipple reconstruction rebuilds the nipple, and nipple tattooing recreates the areola for a natural breast appearance.
Immediateor Delayed Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction is as much of an emotional decision as it is a physical one. Every woman prepares for and is psychologically ready for this procedure in their own time. Breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as your mastectomy or years down the line to support your emotional state.
What Are Your Breast Cancer Reconstruction Options?
Tissue Expanders and Implants
The process of recreating a breast with tissue expanders and implants occurs over a period of six months. This method is ideal for women who do not have sufficient tissue to use for the flap method.
Breast reconstruction with tissue expanders and implants can start at the same time as mastectomy or years down the line. During this procedure:
- A tissue expander is placed in the breast area.
- The expander is gradually filled with saline to stretch the breast skin.
- An implant replaces the tissue expander once the skin has stretched appropriately.
Breast reconstruction with implants usually allows for larger and higher profile breasts—meaning more projection.
Breast reconstruction with tissue flaps may be necessary with your tissue expanders and implants or can be an alternative to implants for women who do not wish to have a foreign object in their body.
Like tissue expanders and implants, tissue flaps can be performed in both immediate and delayed reconstruction. Tissue flaps relocate muscles and fat from various areas on a woman’s body to rebuild the breast mound.
latissimus dorsi flap relocates tissue from the back. Usually, the donor tissue remains attached to the original blood supply while it is tunneled to the breast.
- The TRAM flap relocates tissue from the abdomen. This donor muscle and fat can be detached from its blood supply, or it can remain attached during transfer.
Breast Cancer Reconstruction Revision
Much like breast augmentation, breast reconstruction does not always provide desirable results initially. Unfortunately, some women are forced to undergo a revision of their breast cancer reconstruction to improve the look, feel, and comfort of their reconstructed breast(s).
Breast reconstruction revision helps correct aesthetic and physical defects after initial breast reconstruction. This procedure can usually be performed three months after the initial surgery.
What Are Your Concerns?
RecoveryYour breasts will be wrapped in a compression garment/surgical bra after your breast cancer reconstruction to protect the breasts and facilitate healing. Drains may be placed in the incision sites and will be moved a few days after the surgery. You will need someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours to help with daily chores like cooking and cleaning. Most women return to work and their normal day-to-day activities within one to two weeks and can resume strenuous exercise after four to six weeks.
PainBreast reconstruction is performed under general anesthesia for safety and comfort. You will develop bruising, swelling, and discomfort following your reconstruction regardless of whether or not it is being performed with your mastectomy. Post-operative pain can be alleviated with prescription pain medication or pain pumps. Some women choose to switch to over-the-counter pain medication after a few days.
ScarsYou will have scars from your mastectomy as well as from your breast cancer reconstruction. Your surgeon at Coastal Plastic Surgeons does everything they can to minimize the visibility of these incisions, and all resulting scars will fade with time.
CostThe cost of breast cancer reconstruction will vary depending on the specifications of your surgery. These variations will include implants, tissue flaps, anesthesia fees, surgeon’s fees, facility fees, pre-surgical tests, and post-surgical dressings. Breast reconstruction is usually covered (at least partially) by insurance. Check with your insurance provider to see if and how much of your surgery will be covered.
Breast Cancer Reconstruction Results
View our gallery page for the procedures and treatments at Coastal Plastic Surgeons. At Coastal Plastic Surgeons, we believe in our methods and techniques for lasting results that can change your life. We offer procedures on everything from breast augmentation and body contouring, to facial aesthetics, hair restoration, and skin resurfacing. Every treatment is displayed here in our gallery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Nipple tattooing looks very realistic and matches the subtle differences in color and texture.