Breast Reconstruction after Cancer
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure commonly performed after a mastectomy to offer patients psychological and aesthetic benefits when recovering from breast cancer. This procedure allows many women to fully return to the life they enjoyed before being diagnosed with breast cancer, with barely any signs of the disease remaining. Although the treatment of cancer is the main focus for both patient and doctor, restoring your appearance after breast cancer recovery can often help ensure a complete recovery of body and mind.
Sometimes, a previous breast implant surgery may need to be revised due to rupture, complications, or even a poorly done surgery. NYC Surgical Associates’s surgeons are experts with breast revisions and reconstructions both.
Our surgeons recommend Gummy Bear breast implants for most women because they are the safest, most natural looking and feeling implants available.
What can a breast reconstruction specialist do for me?
For many women, breasts are an important symbol of femininity that helps define their self-confidence and body image. The emotional affects of an altered appearance can be as psychologically damaging as the initial cancer diagnosis. Breast reconstruction serves to restore a woman’s body to its original condition after the treatment of breast cancer. Most of the aesthetic changes caused by breast cancer treatments “such as a partial or simple mastectomy” can be significantly helped by breast reconstruction.
Am I a good candidate for breast reconstruction?
Although breast reconstruction is a beneficial procedure for many women, it is not right for everyone. In order to undergo any kind of breast reconstruction surgery, women should be in good general health and able to handle the stress of a surgical procedure. Certain factors may increase your risk of complications with breast reconstruction surgery, and it may be best to postpone this elective procedure until risk factors are reduced. Consult with a breast reconstruction specialist beforehand to determine what’s right for you.
How is the breast reconstruction procedure performed?
There are two basic types of breast reconstruction: those that use a breast implant to replace the removed breast tissue, and those that use skin and fat from another area of the body (known as autologous tissue). With both procedures, there are several different modifications that can be made to best suit the individual patient’s needs.
Implant-based breast reconstruction is performed similar to a breast augmentation, with the use of a silicone or saline-filled implant to replace breast tissue. A breast implant requires coverage with the patient’s breast skin, much of which may have been removed during the mastectomy. If additional skin coverage is needed, it can be provided by using a tissue expander to stretch the remaining breast skin and muscle over a period of several weeks before being replaced by a permanent implant. Skin taken from the patient’s back can also be transferred to the breast area to cover the implant.
Autologous tissue-based breast reconstruction uses a flap of the patient’s own skin and fat from another part of the body, with or without the underlying muscle, which is transported to the chest to create the reconstructed breast. This flap may remain attached to its original blood supply or can be reattached to another part of the body. There are several different types of flaps that can be used during breast reconstruction depending upon the condition of the breast area after the mastectomy.
Can the opposite breast be treated during the same procedure?
If a mastectomy has only been performed on one breast, the ideal reconstruction procedure would only require shaping and sculpting of the affected breast. However, many women need both breasts to be modified in order to achieve symmetric breasts. Dropping (ptotic) breasts are often hard to match in appearance during breast reconstruction, so both breasts can be treated during one procedure to reduce costs and recovery time for patients.
During breast reconstruction, the opposite breast is often shaped with a breast lift to achieve symmetry. This procedure lifts the breast to reduce drooping and match the newly reconstructed breast. Scars from a breast lift are usually around and below the areola and can be easily concealed. Breast reduction may be needed for women with larger and ptotic natural breasts.
How do breasts look and feel after breast reconstruction?
The results of breast reconstruction vary depending on the patient’s individual case and the type of procedure used. While our surgeons strive to achieve the most natural-looking results for your reconstructive procedure, reconstructed breasts will not have the same sensation and feel of a real breast. It is important for patients to remember this and to have realistic expectations before undergoing the reconstruction procedure.
What is the recovery from breast reconstruction like?
You may experience some discomfort for the first few days after your surgery, but you will be given pain medication as needed. You will be closely monitored throughout your stay.
Not long after surgery you will be encouraged to move your arms, but still refrain from more strenuous activities like pulling yourself up, getting out of bed, or lifting heavy objects. The day after surgery, you will usually be able to sit in a chair beside the bed and by the second day most patients are walking without assistance.
You may continue to receive intravenous fluids for a few days, but you will slowly progress to a regular diet. You will have drains at the incision sites. If you go home with these drains in place, our tram will give you instructions on how to care for them.
The length of your stay is dependent on your operation and the progression of your recovery.