Breast cancer affects many women in the United States, and for survivors, the most devastating part is the permanent effects that treatment can have on the body. Unfortunately, many women don’t know their options when it comes to reconstruction after a mastectomy procedure, so we seek to educate and provide a compassionate environment to help women feel confident in their body again. Whether it’s immediately following mastectomy or at a later time, breast reconstruction can dramatically improve a woman’s appearance, self-confidence, and overall quality of life.
Breast reconstruction is often a series of procedures performed to restore the breasts after a mastectomy treatment. It can be performed within the same surgical procedure or as its own treatment later on using different techniques. Often, breast reconstruction restores the shape, appearance, and form of one or both of the breasts following a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Breast reconstruction can also be indicated for malformed or underdeveloped breasts. In many cases, breast reconstruction is covered by insurance companies as a medically-necessary procedure.
There are many considerations that go into performing the appropriate breast reconstruction procedure for each patient. You should discuss at length the best options for you when it comes to your surgical treatment and a reconstruction procedure, since you may need to delay your reconstruction procedure so that you can successfully recover from it. You should also be honest about your goals for your reconstructive procedure and additional treatments to restore the appearance of the new breasts. We can guide you through your options during a consultation to create the best treatment plan for you and your goals.
There are a few different techniques that can successfully reconstruct a breast profile through surgical techniques. Your unique procedure may include a combination of some of the following.
Often during a mastectomy procedure, there is insufficient tissue for implant placement within the chest. In this case, tissue can be taken from a donor site on the body like the abdomen and be grafted to the reconstruction area. Sometimes, this can create a new breast mound, but more often it provides enough tissue to support the placement of an implant during a later procedure. The same effect can be sometimes achieved with regular tissue expansion using saline-filled implants that can be enlarged every few months. In some cases, fat transfer techniques can be used to help enhance the flap profile.
Successfully placing an implant after mastectomy can highly depend on the surgical procedure itself and how much remaining tissue is available to support an implant. In some cases, an implant can be placed immediately after mastectomy. In other cases, a flap technique or expansion process may be required first. During a consultation, we can help you select the most appropriate implant for your goals and natural proportions.
During your consultation, we can give you the best idea of what to expect from your breast reconstruction procedure. This process is highly-individualized and depends mostly on the factors of your mastectomy or lumpectomy procedure. Whatever your customized treatment plan, we can perform any surgical techniques inside our private, accredited facility.
Your recovery will depend on the surgical techniques used for your breast reconstruction, but we will make sure you have care steps and instructions to follow during your recovery period. This might include caring for dressings and drains, as well as wearing a supportive compression garment for new implants. You can expect discomfort for a few days after surgery, but this can be managed with pain medications prescribed by our office. Most breast reconstruction procedures require around a few weeks of recovery, during which your results will continue to refine and improve as your body adjusts to the new shape and implant. We’ll make sure you understand your future options for implant revision if needed, as well as any symmetry correction or nipple and areolar reconstruction.
We understand that breast cancer treatment can be a very difficult process, so we seek to make your reconstruction options as effective and easy as possible. We can guide you through your choices and goals during a private consultation with our compassionate experts at our St. Joseph office. To schedule a consultation, contact us by calling or filling out our online form.
Watch as general surgeon, Maria Rapciak, DO, and plastic surgeon, Nicole Phillips, MD, discuss surgical options for treating breast cancer and how reconstruction following a mastectomy can help women feel confident in their body again.