Breast reconstruction surgery encompasses a variety of surgical procedures designed to rebuild or reshape the breasts following surgical treatment for breast cancer, including mastectomy or lumpectomy. Breast reconstruction surgery is typically an option whether a woman has single sided treatment or bilateral mastectomies. In cases where only one side is treated, symmetry procedures can be done on the opposite side to restore symmetry. Broadly speaking, breast reconstruction can involve the use of the patients own tissue or implants. In some cases, both are utilized for optimal results.
A consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon will help determine a woman’s candidacy for breast reconstruction surgery. With advanced techniques in both breast reconstruction, as well as breast cancer treatment, nearly every patient undergoing treatment for breast cancer is a candidate for some form of reconstruction to improve the appearance of her breasts following treatment for cancer. As with any surgery, there are things that can reduce your risk and improve your outcome. These include avoiding smoking or other forms of nicotine, eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.
Breast reconstruction can broadly be divided into two categories:
- a) Implant-based breast reconstruction
This is the most commonly performed type of breast reconstruction. A soft implant filled with either silicone gel or saline is inserted to replace the breast tissue removed during the mastectomy. This can be placed behind or in front of the pectoralis major muscle and this procedure can be performed at the time of the mastectomy or at a later time. In some cases, a temporary device called a tissue expander may be used to create a precise pocket for the implant. In other cases, the tissue expander may not be necessary and the final implant is placed at the time of the mastectomy(ies). Implants are safe and do not increase the chance of developing recurrent breast cancer. Implant reconstruction can also be successfully performed even if you require chemotherapy and/or radiation as part of your cancer treatment.
- b) Autologous tissue reconstruction
This type of reconstruction involves the use of tissue from other parts of your body to rebuild the whole breast or a portion of the breast in the case of a lumpectomy. In some cases, both autologous tissue and implants may be used for reconstruction. Once again, autologous tissue reconstruction can be performed even if chemotherapy and/or radiation are a part of the cancer treatment plan.
There is no perfect time. Reconstructive surgery can be performed at various times in the treatment process. In most cases, the procedures are performed at the same time the mastectomy is performed, which is called immediate reconstruction. In other cases, reconstruction occurs at a later time following mastectomy or lumpectomy. This is called delayed reconstruction. Reconstruction can also be performed either before or after chemotherapy or radiation. Please talk with your doctor(s) to determine which plan is best for you.
Are you in Phoenix, Arizona, and would like to have breast reconstruction surgery? Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir of Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery Center can make you feel confident again about the look of your breasts. Book your breast cancer reconstruction consultation at (602) 833-5820.
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