Breast reconstruction is the procedure that women often opt for to restore the appearance of their breast following a breast cancer surgery. There are several techniques of breast reconstruction surgery through which the normal shape of the breasts can be achieved.
Breast reconstruction can reconstruct both breasts or just one if only one breast is affected. Although the surgery may restore the normal shape of your breast, the results can vary from one patient to another. Certain things to be aware of are:
If you had an breast cancer surgery or you’re thinking of breast reconstruction, you should consider all the factors prior to making a decision. Your initial consultation is extremely important as your doctor will discuss with you the risks associated with the surgery and what the procedure can do for you. It is necessary that you fully understand the surgery you will undergo and so signing a consent is mandatory prior to the surgery. You should always consider a board-certified Beverly Hills surgeon to perform the procedure in order to minimize any risks.
Considering the benefits that breast a reconstruction procedure brings is certainly helpful when considering this surgery. The benefits associated with breast reconstruction include:
You may also consider several options regarding your breast reconstruction. You can choose to have breast reconstruction at the same time as your breast cancer surgery (or mastectomy), or have the procedure later which is known as delayed reconstruction. You should also consider scarring as both cancer surgery and breast reconstruction surgery will leave scars on your breasts as well as on your buttocks and other areas where tissue was moved.
It is important to know that breast implants do not cause damage to your health. However, as with any surgical procedure, there are certain risks associated with breast reconstruction as well. Although many of these risks and complications are not common, it is important to be aware of them. Risks associated with breast reconstruction include but are not limited to:
Additional risks involve smokers as tobacco use can narrow the blood vessels and reduce the supply of nutrients as well as oxygen to tissues. Smoking can significantly slow down the healing process and cause the scars to be more visible. That is why your doctor may require you to stop smoking prior to the surgery.
Breast reduction surgery consists of several steps. The first step involves anesthesia and your doctor will recommend whether you should go with intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Once this step is completed, a flap technique is applied to re-position a woman’s muscle, skin, and fat to cover the breast mound. It is possible that radiation therapy may leave insufficient tissue on the chest wall so that a breast cannot support an implant. For this reason, a breast reconstruction procedure usually involves a flap technique or a tissue expansion.
Fat, skin, and muscle can be used from a patient’s abdomen in order to reconstruct the breast. This is known as a TRAM flap. Other flap techniques are DIEP and SGAP which use tissue from the buttocks or abdomen and transport it to the chest.
A technique called latissimus dorsi flap uses muscle, fat, and skin from the back so that it remains attached to the donor site and the blood supply remains intact. If tissue expansion method is applied during the procedure, the skin is stretched to provide coverage for the breast implant. This technique also requires a longer reconstruction process, although the recovery time is slightly shorter than with flap techniques.
The implant used during the surgery can be saline or silicone, depending on the recommendation of your doctor as well your choice. Once the implant is surgically placed it creates a breast mound. Tissue expansion technique is usually applied if the reconstruction involves implant alone while grafting and other techniques create the nipple and areola.
Feeling tired and sore is normal after a breast reconstruction procedure. If you have had an implant surgery, you may feel sore for a week or 2, but this usually lasts longer after a flap procedure. You will have gauze or bandages applied to the incision spots after the surgery. Normally you can leave the hospital a few days after the surgery and go home. Wearing an elastic bandage or support bra will minimize the swelling which is normal after breast reconstruction. The support bra will also support the reconstructed breast so you should wear it as long as necessary. If there is excess blood, a small tube will be placed under the skin to drain the blood.
Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions on what to do or avoid doing after the surgery, and you should follow the instructions carefully to ensure that the healing process goes smoothly and to minimize any complications associated with the procedure such as infections. He will prescribe medications to aid the healing process. Recovery time depends on the type of surgery performed. Some patients feel better after several weeks and can return to their daily routine in a few months.
It is important to know what breast reconstruction surgery can do for you and what to expect after the procedure. You should also know that reconstruction cannot restore normal sensation to your breast, although some feeling may return in the future. It may take up to a year or two for the scars to fade.