Discovering that you have breast cancer may be one of the most traumatic experiences of your life. Undergoing a mastectomy, double mastectomy or lumpectomy is often an important part of breast cancer treatment, but it also alters your appearance. For many women, breast reconstruction is an important component of the healing process, allowing you to restore a sense of femininity and wholeness experienced prior to breast cancer.
At Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery, we have been performing breast reconstruction procedures for women in the Phoenix area for 20 years. Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir hope to provide you with a silver lining during this difficult time in your life. By restoring a beautiful, natural looking breast appearance, you can hopefully move on psychologically as well as medically after your breast cancer treatment.
It is important for you to understand your breast reconstruction options before undergoing a mastectomy. By speaking with Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir in the early stages of the process, you can integrate your breast reconstruction plans with the treatments being provided by your oncologist.
The best way to learn about your options is to speak with Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir in person. Please call (602) 883-4483 today to schedule a consultation at our Phoenix plastic surgery office.
- Am I a Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
- When is the Right Time to Undergo Breast Reconstruction?
- Breast Reconstruction Options
- Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction
- Special Considerations Associated with Implant-Based Breast Reconstructions
- Flap-Based Breast Reconstruction
- Flap-Based Reconstruction in Conjunction with Implant-Based Reconstruction
- Experienced Breast Reconstruction Surgeons
- Contact our Phoenix Plastic Surgeons
Am I a Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction may be an option for any woman who has undergone surgical treatment for breast cancer, including:
- Double mastectomy
- Lumpectomy and radiation
It is also an option for women who have had prophylactic mastectomies due to their family history or positive genetic testing.
When is the Right Time to Undergo Breast Reconstruction?
You have two options regarding the timing of your breast reconstruction:
- Immediate breast reconstruction -- the procedure is performed at the same time as your mastectomy
- Delayed breast reconstruction -- your procedure is performed at a later date than your mastectomy
Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir generally recommend undergoing breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy procedure since it expedites the process of restoring a sense of wholeness and femininity following your cancer treatment. In addition, immediate breast reconstruction allows Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir to spare more of your skin and achieve a shorter scar.
However, there are some instances where it may be more beneficial to delay your breast reconstruction until a later date. It is important to understand that both options can deliver the beautiful results you desire. In addition, there is no time limit if you choose the delayed reconstruction option. You may undergo the procedure even if you received breast cancer treatment many years ago.
Breast Reconstruction Options
There are two different categories of breast reconstruction procedures:
- Implant-based breast reconstruction
- Flap-based breast reconstruction
As the name implies, implant-based reconstruction uses a breast implant to restore the appearance of your breasts. In most cases, a device called a tissue expander is used to stretch the breast tissue before the implant is inserted.
Flap-based reconstruction procedures involve transferring tissue from another area of the body to reconstruct the breast. Common donor sites include the lower abdomen, back and buttocks. These tend to be longer surgeries with more recovery time, but this technique may deliver more natural looking and feeling results in certain patients.
In some instances, the best result may be achieved using a combination of both techniques. During your initial consultation, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will review these options with you in detail and make individualized recommendations based on your unique needs and goals.
Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction
The first phase of this technique typically involves placing a tissue expander into the breast. Tissue expanders are temporary, adjustable volume implants that are used to create the new breast mound. Saline solution is inserted into the expander gradually over time to achieve the desired result. Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir generally perform these expansions in 1-2 week intervals, and 3-5 expansions are usually required to achieve the desired outcome. The use of tissue expanders allows you to have greater input regarding the final breast size.
At the end of the expansion phase, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will replace the tissue expander with a breast implant. In most instances, this will occur approximately 3 months after your mastectomy and initial placement of the expander. However, if chemotherapy is necessary, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will generally wait to replace the expander with an implant until at least one month after the completion of your chemotherapy treatments. If radiation therapy is required, you may need to wait up to 6 months before beginning the implant phase of your procedure.
In some instances, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir may recommend performing breast augmentation and/or a breast lift on the other breast during the implant phase of reconstruction. This often helps improve breast symmetry, creating a more attractive outcome.
If the nipple was removed during your mastectomy, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will perform the nipple reconstruction about two months after your implant is inserted. In most cases, tissue from the chest wall will be used to create the new nipple and areola. Once you have healed following the nipple reconstruction procedure, you can have medical tattooing performed to conceal the scars and achieve a more natural looking appearance.
Special Considerations Associated with Implant-Based Breast Reconstructions
Implant-based procedures are the simplest breast reconstruction option. As a result, they offer the following benefits:
- Shorter hospital stay
- Shorter recovery time
- More minimal scarring
However, your new breast implant will most likely need to be replaced several times throughout your lifetime. In general, breast implants last about 15 years and may potentially need to be replaced earlier due to:
- Implant rupture
- Implant deflation
- Capsular contracture (firm scar tissue surrounding the implant)
- The development of newer implant technology which may help you achieve a more natural looking appearance
In addition, implant based reconstructions typically do not achieve results that look and feel as natural as flap-based reconstructions. It is important to weigh these factors when choosing the right breast reconstruction option for your unique needs.
Flap-Based Breast Reconstruction
Flap-based breast reconstruction is a more extensive procedure and will result in the creation of a scar in the donor site as well as in the breast region. However, the final result typically looks and feels more natural than implant-based reconstruction procedures.
During a flap-based reconstruction procedure, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will remove tissue from the donor site and use it to rebuild your breast mound. As a result, the procedure is more permanent than an implant-based reconstruction and will require less maintenance down the road.
There are several different techniques which can be used for a flap-based breast reconstruction:
- DIEP perforator flap -- This technique is the most muscle-sparing option.
- Muscle-sparing microvascular free TRAM flap -- This procedure removes more muscle than the DIEP flap, but spares more muscle than the traditional TRAM flap technique.
- Traditional TRAM flap -- This technique requires the tunneling of fat, skin and muscle from the abdominal wall to the chest in order to rebuild the breast.
All of these techniques achieve beautiful results, and the right option for you will depend on your unique individual needs. During your consultation, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will discuss these options with you in great detail before making individualized recommendations for your treatment plan.
Flap-Based Reconstruction in Conjunction with Implant-Based Reconstruction
In some instances, flap-based reconstruction can be performed in conjunction with implant-based reconstruction to provide more durable, long lasting results than can be achieved with an implant alone. Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will use fat, skin and muscle from the back to cover the breast implant. This tissue provides additional support for the breast implant while also providing a more natural looking and feeling appearance.
Whenever possible, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will place the incision on the back in a location that will conceal the scar beneath the bra line. The positioning of this scar is usually discrete enough to be concealed when you wear lower-cut clothing.
This procedure is more involved than an implant-based reconstruction and will add some time to your hospital stay and recovery period. In most cases, you should be able to resume normal activities within 4-6 weeks.
Experienced Phoenix Breast Reconstruction Surgeons
Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir are both board certified plastic surgeons who are highly regarded within the medical community. They have received the "Top Doctor" award from Phoenix Magazine for 18 consecutive years, a testament to their commitment to delivering the exceptional care you deserve.
Our surgeons have extensive experience performing breast reconstruction procedures, and they consider it an honor and a privilege to help you complete your recovery after breast cancer. They will provide compassionate care throughout every step of the process, explaining all of your options to ensure you are fully comfortable with your treatment plan before moving forward.
Contact our Phoenix Plastic Surgeons
Please contact Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery using the form on this page or call (602) 883-4483 today to schedule your breast reconstruction consultation. We serve patients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and throughout Arizona.