Breast reconstruction surgery is a highly individualized procedure performed to restore one or both of a patient’s breasts to a normal size and shape after a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction is both physically and emotionally rewarding and helps lessen some of the distress after losing a breast to cancer.
The reconstruction process can be started at the same time as the mastectomy, but some patients may need to wait until they recover from the mastectomy or other aspects of cancer treatment before undergoing reconstruction. However, even immediate reconstructions often require more than one surgery to complete the reconstruction process.
There is not usually enough tissue on the chest to cover a breast implant after a mastectomy; however, there is a variety of techniques that can be used to construct a breast mound or provide tissue to support an implant. During your consultation, Dr. Morales will evaluate your needs and desires to determine which of the following techniques will be best for your breast reconstruction surgery.
Tissue Expander Technique
For this technique, a tissue expander is surgically placed beneath the breast tissue and gradually filled through an internal valve over the next four to six months. As the expander gets larger, it stretches the breast tissue until there is adequate coverage for an implant. A second surgery is then performed to replace the expander with a permanent breast implant.
Tissue Flap Techniques
Flap reconstruction techniques use the patient’s own tissue to recreate a breast mound or breast tissue for an implant. Muscle, fat, and/or skin are taken from a donor site on the patient’s back, abdomen, or buttock and attached to the chest wall. Some flap reconstruction techniques may also require tissue expanders and implants, but the abdominal flap techniques generally do not.
There are different types of tissue flap techniques, including:
- Transverse rectus abdominis muscle (TRAM) flap
- Latissimus dorsi (LD) flap
- Deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap
- Superficial inferior epigastric artery (SIEA) flap
- Gluteal free flap
If only one breast needs reconstruction, a breast lift, breast reduction, and/or breast augmentation may be performed on the opposite breast to improve symmetry. Although insurance generally covers the cost of the breast reconstruction, a procedure performed on the opposite breast for symmetry is often considered cosmetic and an out-of-pocket expense.
After the procedure, incisions will be wrapped with gauze or bandages, and a compression garment will be worn to minimize swelling and support the reconstructed breast(s). Patients should limit their upper-body/chest movement for at least one week to reduce any strain on the operated area, and they should avoid strenuous activities and exercises for at least four weeks. Swelling will resolve over the next several weeks as your new breasts heal. Dr. Morales will provide you with specific instructions based on your individual circumstances to ensure a safe and effective recovery.
Schedule Your Consultation
If you are considering breast reconstruction surgery, please call (214) 827-8407 or fill out our online contact form today for more information. Dr. David Morales is a board-certified plastic surgeon and looks forward to helping you become whole again through breast reconstruction.