Breast reconstruction is a physically and emotionally rewarding procedure for women who have lost a breast due to cancer and other conditions.
Why have Breast Reconstruction?
Following a mastectomy, breast reconstruction surgery will:
- restore the form, symmetry and appearance of natural looking breasts
- improve your appearance, self-confidence and overall quality of life
About the Procedure:
Recent advancements in breast reconstruction techniques provide women today with more options following their mastectomy. Prior to surgery, we will discuss these techniques and prepare a plan to determine which option best fits your needs and desires.
- Skin expansion is the most common technique for breast reconstruction. It combines expanding the skin and inserting an implant. After the mastectomy, the surgeon will insert a balloon expander beneath the skin and chest muscle. Through a small valve mechanism buried under the skin, he will gradually (over several weeks or months) inject a salt-water solution to fill the expander. Once the skin is sufficiently stretched, the expander may be removed in a subsequent operation and replaced with a more permanent implant. Some expanders are designed to be left in place as the final implant.
- A Flap Reconstruction involves the creation of a skin flap using tissue taken from another part of the body. Depending on the type of flap surgery, the tissue can remain attached to its blood supply, and with the accompanying skin, fat and muscle can be tunneled beneath the skin to the chest. Or a microvascular flap can be used with skin from the abdomen, buttocks or thighs and, once transplanted, the blood vessels are reconnected to the new ones in that region.
A breast reconstruction procedure can take from one to six hours, depending on the option chosen. Most breast reconstruction involves more than one procedure, with the first procedure usually taking the most time. Because safety is our first concern, we always work with board-certified anesthesiologists to ensure that your surgery is as safe as possible.
Recovery & Aftercare:
- Patients usually require a surgical drain to remove excess fluids from the surgical sites immediately following surgery. These drains are typically removed within the first week or two.
- Patients may remain in the hospital for anywhere from two to five days.
- It may take up to six weeks to recover from a combined mastectomy and reconstruction.
- If implants are used without flaps and reconstruction is done at a later date than the actual mastectomy, recovery time may be considerably less.
Nipple and areola reconstruction are done separately. Please discuss this option with the doctor.
Breast reconstruction is usually deemed a medically indicated surgical procedure and is typically covered by insurance. Our office will work with your insurance company to determine the scope of your benefits.
**NOTE: The specific risks and the suitability of this procedure for any given individual can only be determined through a consultation with the plastic surgeon.