If you are considering breast reconstruction, either after a mastectomy (surgery that removes all breast tissue) or a lumpectomy (surgery that removes part of the breast tissue), talk to your surgeon about it before surgery. In many instances, breast cancer surgery and reconstruction can be done during the same procedure, with your surgical oncologist and the reconstructive surgeon working together.
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center surgeons offer the full range of reconstructive techniques.
Post-Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction is a surgery to rebuild the shape and appearance of the breast after a mastectomy.
Implant-based reconstruction uses a breast implant to create the shape of the breast. The implant can be placed under the skin or under the chest muscle. Implant-based reconstruction can be done as a single surgery or in two stages. In the single-stage procedure, the implant is placed at the same time as the mastectomy. In a two-stage procedure, a tissue expander is placed at the time of the mastectomy. The tissue expander is gradually filled with saline over several weeks or months to stretch the skin and create space for the implant. The implant is then placed in the second stage of surgery. Implant reconstruction is a common technique but is associated with some issues such as flipping, rippling, leaking, infection, capsule contraction, implant exchanges and more.
Flap reconstruction uses tissue from another part of the body to create the shape of the breast. The most common type of flap reconstruction is the muscle-sparing TRAM or DIEP flap, which uses tissue from the abdomen. This procedure requires microvascular surgical technique. Other types of flap reconstruction include the latissimus flap, which uses tissue from the back, and the PAP flap, which uses tissue from the inner thigh. Flap reconstruction is a more complex surgery than implant-based reconstruction and requires a longer recovery time.
Breast and Nipple Reconstruction:
Nipple reconstruction is not always necessary, but many women choose to have it done. Nipple reconstruction can be done at the same time as the breast reconstruction surgery, or it can be done at a later date. There are several different techniques for nipple reconstruction, and your plastic surgeon will discuss the options with you. Many surgeons and patients are choosing 3D hyperrealistic tattoos.
Which Type of Breast Reconstruction is Right for Me?
The best type of breast reconstruction for you depends on your individual needs and preferences. Your plastic surgeon will discuss the different options with you and help you choose the right one for you.
What to Expect After Breast Reconstruction
Recovery from breast reconstruction surgery takes several weeks or months. You will likely experience some pain and discomfort, and you may have some swelling and bruising. You will also need to wear a compression garment to help support the reconstructed breast. Common risks of this surgery include bleeding, infection, scarring, pain, seroma, necrosis, capsular contraction and more.
Post-Lumpectomy Breast Reconstruction
Sometimes, reconstruction can be combined with a lumpectomy procedure (removing only part of the breast and cancer). This type of reconstruction is called an oncoplastic reconstruction. Once the lumpectomy is complete, the plastic surgeon will then reshape the remaining breast tissue to provide a better aesthetic result. Oncoplastic reconstruction is usually performed in patients who must have a larger lumpectomy. Usually, the plastic surgeon will also perform a procedure on the other breast to reduce the size of the breast and lift the breast tissue so that the two breasts will be more similar in size and shape.
Considerations for Patients Who Choose Breast Reconstruction
- Breast Reconstruction and Radiation Therapy: If you are planning to have radiation therapy after your mastectomy, you will need to discuss this with your plastic surgeon. Radiation therapy can make it more difficult to have implant-based reconstruction, and it may also make it more difficult to achieve a good cosmetic result with flap reconstruction.
- Breast Reconstruction and Pregnancy: If you are planning to become pregnant after your mastectomy, you will need to discuss this with your plastic surgeon. Pregnancy can affect the appearance of the reconstructed breast, and it may also make it more difficult to breastfeed.
- Breast Reconstruction and Your Mental Health: Breast reconstruction can have a positive impact on your mental health. Many women who have breast reconstruction surgery report feeling more confident and comfortable with their bodies. However, it is important to remember that breast reconstruction is not a cure for cancer, and it may not completely erase the emotional scars of your diagnosis. If you are considering breast reconstruction, it is important to talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you understand the emotional impact of the surgery.
Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?
Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. Early detection of lung cancer with a low-dose computed tomography (CT) and expert multidisciplinary care can potentially boosts lung cancer survival rates by 20 percent in high-risk patients.
Renowned Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester. We offer one of the nation's best breast cancer diagnosis and care programs offering treatments customized to your individual needs.
Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation by the American College of Radiology. You get a more precise diagnosis, which then guides a more effective treatment plan.
Multidisciplinary breast cancer team. You receive care from a team of experts in all facets of breast cancer, offering you complete care for the best chance of success.
More breast reconstructive surgery options. As South Florida’s leader in post-surgical breast reconstruction, we help restore comfort and confidence after any breast cancer surgery.
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