What is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is a procedure done post mastectomy to restore the breast to near normal shape. Breast reconstruction can be done months or even several years after a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Using a synthetic implant or the skin, muscle and fat from another part of the body, the procedure involves the creation of a breast mound and nipple similar in size and shape to the opposite breast. All of which restores self-confidence and sense of femininity in women suffering from breast cancer.
Several methods are available for rebuilding a breast after mastectomy. In most cases, breast reconstruction surgery can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy. Dr. McDonald will thoroughly discuss the various techniques in breast reconstruction with you during your consultation and help you select the one that is best for you.
What Are the Types of Breast Reconstruction?
The most common method of breast reconstruction performed involves the use of a breast implant. Occasionally, the breast implant can be inserted directly, at the same time as the mastectomy. Typically, however, after removal of the breast tissue, a tissue expander is placed.
In the tissue expansion and breast implant method, a tissue expander—balloon-like device with an attached tube and valve—is inserted behind the chest muscle and filled with sterile saline. Additional saline solution is injected over the next several weeks. When the area has been sufficiently expanded, the expander is removed and a permanent silicone-gel implant is inserted in its place. The nipple and areola can be reconstructed at a later stage by a simple local procedure.
Breast reconstruction can also be performed by means of flap reconstruction. In one approach, skin, fat and muscle (usually from the abdomen or back) are moved to the chest and allowed to heal in the shape of a breast. In another approach, tissue is completely detached from the donor site (usually the abdomen or back) then reconnected to the blood supply at the chest. This technique is more technical and only performed by a few plastic surgeons. Dr. McDonald has extensive experience in microvascular breast reconstruction.
How you feel after breast reconstruction surgery is influenced by many factors, including the method of reconstruction performed by the Plastic Surgeon; whether the mastectomy was performed at the same time and what, if any, surgery was performed on the opposite breast. In general, tissue reconstruction with a flap requires more involved postoperative rehabilitation.