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What Are My Breast Reconstruction Options?

Posted September 28, 2020 in Breast Reconstruction

3 Minute Read: 

Women who have had surgery to treat breast cancer may choose to have breast reconstruction to restore the look of the breast after a mastectomy. There are different reconstruction techniques available. It is important to take the time to learn about the various options to be well-informed on the best approach to reach your goals.

Illustration showing the various stages of breast reconstruction surgery.

When Is the Right Time to Consider Breast Reconstruction?

There is never a “right” time to consider breast reconstruction, as this will vary between women depending on their subsequent cancer treatment and emotional state. 

Women can choose to undergo—or start—their breast reconstruction process at the same time as their mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or down the line (delayed reconstruction).

While many women prefer immediate reconstruction, as it eliminates or lessens the time they have to see themselves without a breast and reduces surgery and recovery time, it is not always possible. Women who are scheduled to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation will not be candidates for immediate reconstruction.

Selecting the Type of Breast Reconstruction That’s Right for You

The long-term effects of living without a breast affect every woman differently. For some, it may feel utterly uncomfortable and may affect their self-esteem and confidence, necessitating the need to rebuild the breast(s).

There are two methods that women consider for breast reconstruction. 

Tissue Flap Reconstruction

Tissue flap procedures use your own body tissues to reconstruct the breast. This is a highly complex technique as it involves the transfer of tissue from one area of the body to your chest to create a new breast mound. 

When needed, your surgeon may need to augment the skin and tissue with a breast implant for a more desirable breast size.

The tissue for reconstructing your breast often comes from your abdomen, but it may also be obtained from your back, buttocks, or inner thighs. Adequate blood supply is critical to the survival of the transplanted tissue. Since tissue flap procedures result in larger incisions, they require a longer recovery period and may require a more extended hospital stay. The results, however, may look more natural than an expander and implant reconstruction.

Expander and Implant Reconstruction

This is a two-step process that involves the expansion of the breast skin and muscle using a temporary tissue expander. Over the course of several office visits, your surgeon will add increasing amounts of saltwater solution to gradually fill the expander, allowing the muscle and skin to expand.

Once the tissue is stretched to the desired size, the expander is removed in a second operation and replaced by a permanent breast implant. While an expander and implant reconstruction usually takes longer to perform, the recovery time is shorter than a tissue flap reconstruction.

What Else Does My Breast Reconstruction Include?

Breast reconstruction will also entail a nipple and areola reconstruction, which are performed in a subsequent procedure. Your approach to breast reconstruction should be as individualized as your treatment plan. What worked for someone else won’t necessarily be right for you. During your consultation, your surgeon will develop the best surgical treatment and reconstruction strategy for your situation, depending on your body type and medical history.

Some patients may also need to have additional procedures such as a breast lift or breast reduction performed on the normal breast to improve symmetry.

Interested in Learning More?

Make a breast reconstruction appointment today by calling us at (512) 872-5395 or filling our online form. Dr. Pearce will help you choose the type of reconstruction that will give you the best results.

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