Being diagnosed with breast cancer or having a genetic predisposition to breast cancer can be a physically and emotionally traumatic experience. The removal of a breast (mastectomy) often adds to the stress. Breast reconstruction following the surgical removal of a breast can help a woman cope with this loss and regain a sense of normalcy.
Our surgeons use state-of-the-art techniques that can create a natural-looking breast and help patients regain a positive body image.
Breast reconstructions can be done as an autologous tissue reconstruction, which uses the patient’s own tissues to reconstruct a new breast mound, with a breast implant, or a combination of the two.
Who is a Candidate?
If you already had a mastectomy, or are anticipating a mastectomy, you may be a candidate for breast reconstruction. In general, age is not a limiting factor. If you are healthy enough to undergo a surgical operation, you are most likely a candidate for one of the breast reconstruction techniques outlined below.
Your plastic surgeon will speak with you about your goals, take an in-depth history of your cancer diagnosis, and perform a detailed physical examination to help you arrive at a decision about which breast reconstruction method is best for your particular situation.
Prosthetic Implant Reconstruction
The use of saline or silicone implants can be an excellent option for breast reconstruction. If you do not require radiation therapy, and lack sufficient autologous tissue in your lower abdomen to create adequate breast volume, you may be a good candidate for this type of reconstruction.
Following a mastectomy, surgeons insert a skin expander beneath your skin and chest muscle. Over the course of several weeks, surgeons adjust the expander and eventually perform a second operation to insert the implant and reconstruct the surrounding skin and areola. If you do not require a tissue expansion, you can receive a breast implant immediately following the mastectomy. Breast implant technology has improved greatly over the past decade, and good reconstructions are achieved in most patients.
Autologous (flap) reconstruction
An autologous, or flap reconstruction, technique uses your own tissues to recreate a breast after a mastectomy. Autologous reconstructions can appear more natural than implant reconstructions, and tend to be more durable, thereby possibly avoiding additional operations.
Transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous (TRAM) flap – The surgeon relocates a flap from your abdomen to the breast area.
Deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap – The surgeon removes only your skin and fat, and spares the abdominal wall muscles, which results in a shorter recovery time and less abdominal muscle weakness. If your anatomy is appropriate, the surgeon may opt to perform this procedure instead of the more conservative TRAM flap procedure.