Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy or lumpectomy surgery. Determining factors such as your anatomy, aesthetic goals and any postsurgical chemotherapy or radiation will dictate the breast reconstruction options. If you are interested in immediate reconstruction options, scheduling a consultation with Dr. Shah to discuss your cancer surgery before undergoing mastectomy is preferred. Breast reconstruction options are greatly influenced by the cancer removal surgery and chemotherapy or radiation procedures. If you have already undergone a mastectomy or are unhappy with your reconstruction, you can schedule a consultation at any time to discuss your options for reconstruction or revision.
Although breast reconstruction is a physically and emotionally rewarding procedure for a woman who has lost a breast, the results are highly variable. Factors to consider include:
- A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation, appearance and feel as the breast it replaces.
- Visible incision lines will always be present on the breast, whether from reconstruction or mastectomy.
- Certain surgical techniques will leave incision lines at the donor site, commonly located in less exposed areas of the body such as the back, abdomen or buttocks.
Is breast reconstruction a good option for you? | When to consider the procedure
- You feel ready for the emotional adjustment involved in breast reconstruction
- If you think reconstruction will give you a sense of psychological well being or a feeling of “wholeness”
- To help restore your feelings of femininity and quality of life
- To improve your self-image and confidence in your appearance
- To improve symmetry if only one of your breasts is affected
- To allow you to wear low-cut necklines, fitted tops and normal swimwear
- To avoid having to cope with wearing external breast forms or pads
If you are in good health, poise a positive attitude and realistic expectations for restoring your breast and body image, then you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
If one breast is reconstructed, a breast lift, breast reduction, or breast augmentation may be recommended for the opposite breast to improve symmetry of the size and position of both breasts. Adjunct procedures may be necessary to achieve your goals.
During your initial consultation, Dr. Shah will take a complete medical history and examine the areas of concern in advance of planning your breast reconstruction. You will be asked about your desired breast size and breast appearance and any other medical considerations. Dr. Shah will factor in the size and shape of your opposite breast, the quality of your skin, and the placement of your nipples and areolas (the darker skin surrounding the nipples).
This process will help Dr. Shah to better understand your expectations and determine whether they can be realistically achieved. Then, this information will be used to formulate a surgical plan that will obtain the best outcome based on the discussed goals of the procedure. Dr. Shah will select the surgical technique that will offer the lowest risk with maximum results. Both Dr. Shah and his staff will thoroughly explain the surgical technique and answer any questions on the procedure. The course of treatment will be discussed including procedures to achieve breast symmetry.
Overview of the Procedure
Your breast reconstruction surgery will be performed in one of our fully accredited surgical facilities. The duration of the procedure will be dependent on the necessary revision(s). You will need to make arrangements to have a family member or friend drive you to and from the surgery center and care for you during the first 24 hours after surgery.
What are the reconstructive options if you have a mastectomy?
There are three basic options for breast reconstruction after mastectomy:
- Using breast implants (saline or silicone)
- Reconstructing the breast using your own skin, tissue and muscle (autologous or flap reconstruction)
- A combination using both breast implants and your own tissue
Dr. Shah will determine your best options for reconstruction based on your anatomy, specific characteristics of your breast and your preferences. With some patients, multiple procedures are required for complete reconstruction of the breasts.
What will breast reconstruction incisions and scars be like?
The appearance of your scars once fully healed depends on your age, genetics and the way your body heals.
- Most scars become less noticeable over time but never completely disappear.
- Patients can expect a mastectomy scar which spans the length of the breast.
- Additional scars may be present along the breast depending on the type of reconstruction.
- If your own tissue is used for reconstruction (autologous or flap reconstruction) scarring along the donor site will be present.
Dr. Shah and his staff will inform and educate you on scar management techniques to make scarring less noticeable.
Following breast reconstruction surgery, it is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals and is dependent on the reconstruction option performed. Implant-based reconstruction is the simplest and least painful and has the shortest recuperation time. With implant reconstruction, patients can expect to have muscle soreness and swelling for a few weeks following surgery. Many patients are able to return to most routine activities within a few days after surgery with the exception of a 20lb weight limit for the first 2 weeks. Flap-based procedures, which require surgery in two areas (the breasts and flap donor site), are more demanding and recuperation varies, depending on which flap procedure was performed.
The length of time to finish the breast reconstruction process can vary depending on the number of surgeries you require including adjunct procedures and the need for other breast cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy. The reconstructive process typically takes 6 months to one year no matter what type of reconstruction you choose if no further cancer treatment is necessary.
Dr. Shah and his staff will closely monitor your progress by providing specific postoperative care instructions and schedule a follow up visit to the office to ensure a smooth healing and recovery.
If you would like more information on breast reconstruction, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact the Medical Spa today.
Click here to read our postoperative care instructions after breast reconstruction surgery.
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"To Dr. Shah and your fabulous team, Every time I pass by a mirror I am surprised and say to myself...what was I waiting for? Makeup has become fun again! I thank you all for a great experience."Actual Patient