Breast reconstruction is a type of surgery for women who have had all or part of a breast removed. The surgery rebuilds the breast scaffold so that it is about the same size and shape as it was before. The nipple and the darker area around the nipple (areola), if removed with the surgery, can also be added in a delayed time. Most women who have had a breast removed (mastectomy) can have reconstruction. Women who have had only the part of the breast around the cancer removed (lumpectomy) may not need reconstruction. Breast reconstruction is done by a plastic surgeon.
The choice to have breast reconstruction is yours to make. You and those close to you should talk with your healthcare team about any questions and concerns you have about this type of surgery. It is important to make educated decisions that are not rushed.
It is imperative that a team of physicians follow your case right from the beginning till the final steps of the reconstructive procedure.
It is never an easy task to make big surgical decisions in the face of breast cancer, especially when there is an overwhelming amount of information presented to you by doctors, family, and friends.
WHICH ARE THE DIFFERENT POSSIBILITIES IN BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
Several types of operations can be used to reconstruct your breast. You can have a newly shaped breast with the use of
- A breast implant
- Your own tissue flap and your own fat transplanted
- A combination of them
A tissue flap is a section of your own skin, fat, and in some cases muscle which is moved from another area of your body to the chest area.
In recent years, according to plastic surgeon located in Boston area, the trend is to preserve other parts of the body and use just the fat of the patient, through liposuction and treatment of the fat aspirated to reconstruct the missing breast.
This procedure is called fat grafting or lipofilling and it is used both in the reconstruction of partially removed breast and in the cases of total removal of the breast tissue. Sometimes this surgical procedure is combined with an expansion of the skin with an internal expander or with an implant that can create volume of the lacking breast.
All the possible choices can be done as immediate procedure or step by step.
Immediate breast reconstruction is done, or at least started, at the same time as the mastectomy. An advantage to this is that the chest tissues are not damaged by radiation therapy or scarring. This often means that the final result looks better. Also, immediate reconstruction means less surgery steps.
After the first surgery, a number of steps still may be needed to complete the immediate reconstruction process. If you are planning to have immediate reconstruction, be sure to ask what will need to be done afterwards and how long it will take.
Delayed breast reconstruction means that the rebuilding is started later. This may be a better choice for some women who need radiation to the chest area after the mastectomy. Radiation therapy given after breast reconstruction surgery can cause problems like delayed healing and scarring.
After the reconstruction, you may able to see small difference between the reconstructed breast and the remaining breast when wearing no clothes. But when you’re wearing a bra, the breasts should be alike enough in size and shape that you’ll feel comfortable about how you look in your own clothes.
All patients with a reconstructed breast are happy to live their new life.