Surgically removing breast tissue, the procedure called mastectomy, is part of cancer treatment. For most women, breast removal is emotionally and psychologically distressing, and affects their self-esteem and self-confidence. Breast reconstruction surgery helps restore their lost body contour and femininity.
Two Popular Breast Reconstruction Modalities
Two popular options to reconstruct the breasts after mastectomy are
– breast implants
– DIEP flap reconstruction
DIEP Flap Surgery
Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) Flap Surgery is a safe and effective breast reconstruction procedure. Also known as autologous tissue transfer, it uses the candidates tissue for reconstruction. The plastic surgeon removes skin, fat and blood vessels from the patients lower abdomen and transfers it to the chest to recreate a natural looking breast mound.
The surgery involves detaching a small blood vessel, the deep inferior epigastric artery, from the abdominal wall and moving the tissue to the breast. The artery is then attached to a blood vessel in the chest.
One of the greatest advantages of this procedure is that since no muscle is used, there is no loss of abdominal strength. A new nipple is created with local tissue flaps or with a small piece of cartilage. The areola will also be recreated. After the procedure, patients can usually resume the normal activities within 6 weeks.
Some of the important benefits of this procedure are:
- Provides a natural appearance
- Minimal complications
- Minimal side effects
- No insertion of foreign material
- Less pain
- Shorter recovery time
Reconstruction Using Implants
In breast reconstruction using implants, FDA-approved saline or silicone implants are used for reconstruction. This can be done at the time of mastectomy or later. If the reconstruction is done at the same time as the mastectomy, the surgeon may do a skin-sparing mastectomy. In this, only the area around the nipple and areola is removed, and the skin is left to facilitate reconstruction. In patients with inadequate skin or soft tissue, the plastic surgeon would first place an expander prosthesis in the chest. This is a silicone bag, which will be filled with saline over time to stretch the skin and soft tissue envelope. When sufficient stretching has been achieved, the expander is removed and a proper implant is inserted to bring about a natural-looking appearance.
These breast reconstruction surgery options are really valuable for women who have lost their natural breasts to cancer. With the availability of advanced medical techniques, the procedure has become safer and more effective. There are reputable plastic surgery centers in Texas offering this surgery. Optimal results can be expected when the procedure is performed by a plastic surgeon experienced in microsurgery.