Breast reconstruction refers to the modern cosmetic plastic surgery procedure that makes it possible to construct a natural-looking breast after mastectomy (breast removal) for cancer or other diseases. Thanks to modern technology, breast reconstruction is commonly begun and sometimes completed immediately following mastectomy, so that the patient wakes with a new breast mound instead of no breast at all. Many insurance companies cover breast reconstruction following breast cancer surgery, and legislation is currently before Congress to make coverage mandatory. There are several ways to reconstruct the breast, both with and without implants; your breast surgeon along with Dr. Peter Schwartz should work together with you in deciding which is the best for you. Breast reconstruction has not been proven to affect the recurrence of cancer or other diseases, chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Breast reconstruction is a physically and emotionally rewarding procedure for a woman who has lost a breast due to cancer or another condition. Breast reconstruction is in essence the creation of a new breast. Breast reconstruction can dramatically improve a woman’s self-image and quality of life. While cosmetic plastic surgery does its best to replicate the feeling of having breasts, breast reconstruction cannot promise that a reconstructed breast will look or feel exactly the same as the breast that was removed. However, breast reconstruction can provide a relatively natural-looking breast.
Breast reconstruction is a good option for you if you are able to cope well with your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Breast reconstruction may not be right for you if you have additional medical conditions or other illnesses that may impair healing. Breast reconstruction may not be good for smokers. Breast reconstruction is a viable option for those with a positive outlook and realistic goals.
The breast reconstruction cosmetic plastic surgery procedure usually involves several procedures performed in multiple stages. Breast reconstruction can begin at the same time as mastectomy or may be delayed until the patient has healed from mastectomy. In an ideal setting, a patient wakes with a new breast mound instead of no breast at all. There are several breast reconstruction techniques, that differ in process and outcome.
At times the mastectomy or radiation therapy leaves insufficient tissue on the woman’s chest wall to cover and support a breast implant. The use of a breast implant for breast reconstruction almost always requires either a flap technique or tissue expansion.
The breast reconstruction flap technique repositions a woman’s own muscle, fat and skin to create the breast mound. Breast reconstructions that use the flap technique may result in a more natural feeling breast. Depending on the patient’s size, a breast implant may be used to augment the breast.
A TRAM flap utilizes muscle, fat and skin from a woman’s abdominal region to reconstruct the breast. The flap can either remain attached to the original blood supply or may be detached, and formed into a breast mound.
A latissimus dorsi flap uses muscle, fat and skin from the back. The muscle, fat and skin is then tunneled to the mastectomy site. It remains attached to its donor site, leaving blood supply intact.
Sometimes, the flap can reconstruct a complete breast mound, but this is not very common.
The breast reconstruction prosthetic technique uses saline breast implants or silicone breast implants to create the breast mound.
The breast reconstruction procedure can help to lessen the physical and emotional impact of a mastectomy. With time, breast sensation may return, and you can expect scar lines to improve. Overall, most women agree that breast reconstruction offers them a huge improvement in their quality of life. Many women feel that breast reconstruction gives them the ability to look and feel whole.