A breast cancer reconstruction procedure is a surgery that rebuilds a woman’s breasts after their partial or complete removal. The surgery rebuilds the mound of the breast to best match the size and shape of its previous appearance.
This procedure allows a patient to:
- Regain the appearance of breast
- Appear balanced once again, especially in clothes such as a swimsuit
A breast cancer reconstruction surgery also enables a woman to take back control over her body after a bout with cancer.
Most women who have undergone a mastectomy are able to undergo this type of procedure. Those that only have part of their breast removed, known as a lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery, may not need reconstruction, but sometimes do.
When choosing to undergo a breast reconstruction surgery, a patient must consider which type is best for them. There are two broad types: immediate and delayed. Immediate breast reconstruction is scheduled to occur during the mastectomy procedure, while a delayed breast reconstruction procedure is scheduled days to weeks afterward.
There are many different types of breast reconstruction procedures to choose from. These include newly shaped breasts using breast implants, a patient’s own tissue or a combination of both.
- One-stage immediate breast reconstruction: Also known as direct-to-implant reconstruction, during this procedure, an implant is placed immediately after the mastectomy is performed. The implant is usually placed beneath the muscle of the chest, held in place by a special type of graft or absorbable mesh.
- Two-stage reconstruction: During this type of procedure a short-term tissue expander is placed after a mastectomy. The expander, a balloon like sac, is slowly expanded to a desired size to allow the skin flaps to stretch. By inserting a tiny valve under the skin, a salt-water solution is injected to fill the expander over a period of two to three months. After the skin over the breast has expanded enough, a second surgery will remove the expander and place the permanent implant.
Depending on the patient, other types of the surgery may need to be performed to achieve desired results. One of these is the Latissimus dorsi flap, which tunnels fat, skin and blood vessels from the upper back and to the front of the chest, creating a more natural-looking breast.
New methods involving tissue support can also be used for breast reconstruction. This tissue enables added coverage, supports the implant or positions the muscle as needed.
If you’re interested in learning more about this type of procedure, schedule a consultation today.