Breast Reconstruction Surgery after Mastectomy

The last decade has witnessed several advancements in breast reconstruction surgery, the procedure to reconstruct the breasts after mastectomy. Two major considerations among women choosing to have reconstruction after mastectomy are

– when to have surgery – at the time of mastectomy or at a later stage
– what type of reconstruction – using an implant or the patient’s own tissue flap

Though patient’s choice is considered, the plastic surgeon provides guidance to make the right decision based on medical and other factors.

Breast Reconstruction – Immediate or Delayed

Immediate – Simultaneous or immediate reconstruction is an option for patients who do not need breast radiation. Women diagnosed with stage I or some stage II breast cancers choose mastectomy based on a biopsy and are less likely to need radiation, making them good candidates for immediate reconstruction.

Staged – Many women who require radiation therapy are advised to have staged instead of immediate reconstruction. Women diagnosed with stage III or stage IV cancers need radiation therapy or other treatments (almost always) and in such cases, reconstruction will be delayed until all other breast cancer treatments are completed.

Types of Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy
There are two options to reconstruct the breasts

  • Using implants
  • Using autologous tissue

In some cases, a combination technique that makes use of an implant along with natural tissue is used.

Implant-based reconstruction

Saline and silicone implants are used to change the size, form, and texture of the breasts. The procedure usually includes the following stages:

  • The placement of tissue expander which has a valve that allows more saline to be added after surgery
  • The skin-muscle envelope gets slowly stretched in 4-6 months until it reaches the desired size
  • The expander and replaced with a permanent implant

Natural/Autologous Reconstruction

In this procedure, skin and fat (a flap) from another area of the body is removed and used to reconstruct the deficient breast. Tissue for creating breast is taken from areas such as the abdomen, back, or buttocks, or thighs. The collected flap is transplanted to the chest by reconnecting the blood vessels to the ones in the chest region.In DIEP flap breast reconstruction, the tissue for creating breast is taken from patient’s abdominal area, leaving the abdominal muscles untouched.

Houston is an ideal place to have breast reconstruction surgery. Choose an AAAASF-accredited plastic surgery center with a board-certified plastic surgeon experienced in this reconstructive procedure for the best results.