Breast reconstruction surgery is a procedure that restores the shape and symmetry of the breasts. This procedure is usually performed on women who have lost a breast or breasts due to a mastectomy or who suffer from a deformity at birth.
Women who have undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer or women who have had a lumpectomy and the symmetry of their breasts are off balance are good candidates for breast reconstruction surgery. Also, women who were born with a deformity or who have suffered a trauma that has affected the appearance of their breasts are good candidates.
Prior to Surgery
Prior to surgery you and your doctor will have a one on one consultation. This is the most important step in this process. Your doctor will explain the different options for you; listen to your needs and concerns and then make recommendations based on your individual needs. It is important to be honest with your surgeon about your expectations and goals. Together you will make the best decisions for you.
Breast reconstruction is done in a hospital under general anesthesia. Sometimes this surgery can take up to three hours depending on the type of technique being used. There are several techniques available to women today. The most common technique is skin expansion. This involves stretching the skin in the breast area and later inserting an implant. An expander is inserted under the skin and muscle. Over several weeks the doctor will expand this implant by filling it with salt water or saline. Once the skin is stretched to the desired size, the expander is removed, and a permanent soft implant will take its place. The recovery time using this technique is the fastest and easiest on the patient.
Another technique is flap reconstruction which uses skin, fat and muscle from other parts of the body. The most common area for obtaining this tissue is the abdomen. Recovery time following this procedure can be more lengthy and painful than the expansion technique, but often can give a more natural appearance once completed.
Breast reconstruction can restore self-confidence and lead to a better quality of life. It will enhance your appearance and help make the recovery of a mastectomy more bearable for many women.
Patients may remain in the hospital for one to four days. You will be required to wear a surgical drain to remove excess fluids, but the drain is usually removed in a few weeks. Swelling and tenderness is to be expected. Pain can be managed with medication supervised by your doctor. Recovery can be a lengthy process. It can take up to six weeks to return to normal activities. Your surgeon will review all post-operative instructions with you before you return home.
- Expander removal and permanent implant placement
- Flap reconstruction revision
- Nipple and areola reconstruction
All patients are unique and needs vary. Options will be discussed with you during your consultation.