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 with the help of a board-certified reconstructive surgeon.
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. It is best to work closely with both your reconstructive surgeon and oncologist to determine your best options.
It is important 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 your oncologist’s treatment plans. You have two options regarding the timing of your breast reconstruction:
- Immediate breast reconstruction, which is performed at the same time as your mastectomy
- Delayed breast reconstruction, which is performed after your mastectomy is completed
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 beautiful results. 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.
There are generally two types of breast reconstruction that Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir perform. You will discuss the right option for you during a consultation.
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 gradually inserted into the expander over time to achieve the desired result. Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir generally perform these expansions in 1-2-week intervals, and multiple 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 or a breast lift on the other breast during the implant phase of reconstruction. This often helps improve breast symmetry, creating a more complete outcome.
If the nipple was removed during your mastectomy, Dr. Ali and Dr. Tamir will perform 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.
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 in order to rebuild the breast.
All 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 detail before making individualized recommendations for your treatment plan.
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.
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 every year since 1998, a testament to their commitment to delivering the exceptional care you deserve.
Our reconstructive 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 your options to ensure you are fully comfortable with your treatment plan before moving forward.
Please contact Mosharrafa Plastic Surgery using our online form or calling our Phoenix office to schedule your breast reconstruction consultation. We serve patients in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and throughout Arizona.