What is breast reconstruction?
Many women who have a mastectomy, the surgical procedure to remove an entire breast to treat or prevent cancer, have the option of having another surgery to rebuild the breast mound to match the size and shape of the breast removed. Though not always necessary, women who have had a lumpectomy, or breast-conserving surgery, where they only have part of the breast around the cancer removed can also have breast reconstruction surgery.
Breast cancer can be devastating physically and psychologically for patients. A Coastal Plastic Surgeons, we attempt to improve both the functional and psychological well-being of our breast cancer patients. Undergoing breast reconstruction surgery can have profound emotional and practical benefits. The type of reconstruction you decide to undergo will be decided by you and your surgeon, depending on your body and your needs.
At Coastal Plastic Surgeons, we also offer breast reconstruction revision for patients who are unhappy with previous results. Some of these patients had been treated years ago before the surgically advanced techniques we use today were available.
When is breast reconstruction performed?
There are two common procedures to begin the breast reconstruction process. Performed over a series of surgeries by a plastic surgeon, breast reconstruction can either be immediately performed after a mastectomy or months, even years later.
- Immediate breast reconstruction: For this method, the final implant is put in at the same time as the mastectomy is performed. Once the surgeon removes the breast tissue, a plastic surgeon inserts a breast implant beneath the muscle on the chest. A special graft is used to hold the implant in place. This is a good option for women who do not require radiation therapy.
- Delayed breast reconstruction: This method uses a short-term tissue expander that is put in some time after the mastectomy. The tissue expander will slowly expand to the desired size to allow the muscle and skin flaps to stretch by the surgeon injecting saline through a tiny valve under the skin. Once the skin area over the breast has stretched, a second surgery will remove the tissue expander and permanent implant.
There are other personal factors to consider when making a decision about reconstructive surgery, such as:
- Your overall health
- The size of your natural breast
- The amount of tissue available
- The size of the implant or reconstructed breast
- Whether you want reconstructive surgery on one or both breasts
Techniques for Breast Reconstruction
There are many techniques available for breast reconstruction. There are pros and cons to each. For example, breast implants require less invasive surgery than procedures using your own body tissues, but the results may look and feel less natural. Your healthcare team at Coastal Plastic Surgeons will discuss which options are right for you.
There are two main techniques for breast reconstruction:
Implant Reconstruction: Inserting an implant that’s filled with silicone gel, saline or a combination of the two.
- Both Saline and silicone implants have an outer cover made of solid silicone.
- Saline implants are filled with saline, a saltwater solution and arrive deflated and are filled up to the desired volume during surgery.
- Silicone implants are filled with silicone gel; they are pre-filled with the desired volume.
Autologous or Flap Tissue Reconstruction: This technique uses tissue from other parts of the patient’s body such as the back, thigh, buttocks or abdomen.
- Reconstruction that uses skin and soft tissue from the patient’s body tends to look and feel more like a natural breast than reconstruction with implants.
- Flap tissue reconstruction may also include the use of an implant.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
Creating the nipple and areola is the final stage in breast reconstruction. Recreating the nipple and areola give the reconstructed breast a more natural look and can help hide the mastectomy scars. These are usually outpatient performed procedures.
After the Procedure
You are likely to feel sore and tired for a couple of weeks after implant surgery and longer after flap procedures. Your physician will give you medications to control pain and other discomforts. Depending on the type of surgery patients typically go home in one to six days.
Remember that it may take some time to see the full results pf your reconstructed breasts. You should be up and around in six to eight weeks. If implants are used without flaps, your recovery time may be shorter.
Experience is Critical for Best Cosmetic Results
Coastal Plastic Surgeons is highly regarded as one of the premier plastic surgery practices in Southern California and nationally. Your choice of cosmetic surgeon will be a choice you live with for your life.
Coastal Plastic Surgeons has been recognized as Top Plastic Surgeons in San Diego by the San Diego Medical Society. Both Dr. Batra and Dr. Camberos have been recognized nationally among “Top Plastic Surgeons” by the Consumer’s Research Council of America.
We are confident we can make you feel more like yourself and give you greater confidence for years to come.
Call us to book your consultation (858) 365-3558 or click “Contact Us” on the top of the page for our four convenient locations.