Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that recreates the appearance and shape of one or both breasts. This procedure is designed for women who have undergone a mastectomy, in which their breast tissue was surgically removed. A mastectomy is often performed as a treatment for breast cancer or as a preventative measure for patients at high risk of developing breast cancer. Women who have their natural breast tissue removed can have their feminine curves restored with breast reconstruction. Depending on the patient’s unique circumstances and stage of cancer, breast reconstruction may be performed immediately after a mastectomy or it may be delayed until a later date.
Immediate vs. Delayed Breast Reconstruction
Immediate Breast Reconstruction
Sometimes, breast reconstruction can be combined with the mastectomy procedure so that the woman does not have to go through a period of time without her breast(s). Immediate breast reconstruction offers better cosmetic results and can make the whole experience less emotionally difficult. It also reduces the total number of surgeries; however, the initial recovery period will be longer. Additionally, immediate breast reconstruction may be difficult to schedule around cancer treatment and removal. Patients who need future radiation treatments may not qualify for immediate breast reconstruction.
Delayed Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction can be delayed for months or even years after a mastectomy. Delayed breast reconstruction allows a woman to undergo additional cancer treatments and gives her more time to prepare and decide on her options for breast reconstruction. However, delayed breast reconstruction requires more surgery and produces less optimal results. In addition, it may be more emotionally trying for the woman to transition twice to her new breast shape.
Surgical Techniques: Implant and Expander vs. Tissue Flap
Implant and Expander Reconstruction
With this technique, a temporary tissue expander is inserted into the woman’s breast pocket. This expander is periodically and progressively filled with a saline solution. As it expands, the breast pocket stretches. Eventually, the expander is removed and a breast implant is inserted in its place. While this procedure must be completed in stages and extends the breast reconstruction timeline, the implant and expander technique can help to ease the recovery process.
Tissue Flap Reconstruction
With this technique, tissue is harvested from the back, thigh, abdomen, or another area of the woman’s body. This harvested tissue is used either to reconstruct the breast mound or to serve as breast tissue covering for a breast implant. In the latter case, a breast implant will be inserted under the new breast tissue. This newly constructed breast tissue can be fully detached from the original blood vessels and grafted into its new location, or it can remain attached to the original blood vessels from the donor site.
Often, breast reconstruction will include a form of nipple reconstruction through various techniques used to preserve or reconstruct the areola and nipple. Mr Gwanmesia will explain your options for nipple reconstruction during your personal consultation.
To find out more about breast reconstruction and how it could help you, schedule your consultation with Mr Ivo Gwanmesia today. Please call our office at 02074741300 or fill out our online contact form to contact us today.
You can get to our London office through the Oxford Circus and Bond Street Underground to Marylebone. We are located on the 10 Harley Street next to the Cavendish Square Gardens.
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Breast Reconstruction FAQ
Breast reconstruction is not a medically necessary procedure; however, it can provide emotional healing and help a woman adjust after a diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Nonetheless, choosing to undergo breast reconstruction surgery is a highly personal decision. Women who consider breast reconstruction should undergo the procedure for their own reasons rather than to please others.
The answer to this question must be determined based on all of your unique factors, including your stage of cancer treatment, lifestyle, health, preference, and other factors. During your consultation, Mr Gwanmesia will help you determine which option is best for you.
Each breast reconstruction procedure is personalized for a woman’s needs. If breast reconstruction is needed for only one breast, the opposite breast can receive a breast lift, breast augmentation, or breast reduction to help achieve breast symmetry.
As with most surgical procedures, there are some risks involved with breast reconstruction surgery. These include:
- Anesthesia complications
- Excessive bleeding
- Loss of sensation to the breasts
- Unfavorable scarring
- Blood clots
Breast reconstruction surgery is usually performed using general anesthesia.
During your consultation, Mr Gwanmesia will evaluate your body type and the existing amount of excess tissue you have to determine which technique will best benefit your desired needs.
Breast reconstruction results are long lasting and can successfully create the appearance of round and perky breasts. In some instances, breast implants may need to be replaced after a significant amount of time.
Patients have the option of choosing between saline or silicone breast implants. Many women commonly choose silicone because it better simulates a natural look and feel.
Unfortunately, nipple reconstruction will only create the appearance of the nipple and cannot restore nipple functionality or nerves.
Breast reconstruction may vary depending on the amount of surgeries required.