Know Your Options for Breast Reconstruction Surgery
If you are facing breast cancer surgery, you need to know there are many choices waiting for you in terms of breast reconstruction. If it is your desire to go through with reconstruction after a mastectomy, you can decide when to have the procedure and which type of procedure you prefer. While the number of choices can seem overwhelming at a time that is already stressful, learning your options can also give you a sense of control over your current situation.
Timing and Stages
Reconstruction surgery is commonly performed at the same time as the mastectomy. This offers the benefit of completing both procedures with a single round of anesthesia and just one recovery period. It can also be an emotional boost for a woman to wake up from a mastectomy to find her breasts are still intact. However, immediate reconstruction may not be an option for women that will be undergoing chemotherapy or radiation after surgery. It is important to talk to your oncologist about your possible treatment protocol when deciding the best time for your reconstruction surgery.
If your oncologist is unsure about your need for additional treatment, reconstruction can be performed in two stages. The first stage, performed during the mastectomy, places an expanded or implants into the breast tissue to maintain the shape of the breast and skin immediately following the mastectomy. If your oncologist determines no further treatment is necessary, a second procedure can be done fairly quickly to complete the reconstruction process.
Saline or silicone implants are frequently used during breast reconstruction to give the breasts a natural shape and size. Both types of implants come in an assortment of shapes, sizes and projections, allowing for full customization of your implants to your specific body shape and profile. Implants may be placed at the time of the mastectomy or later, depending on the circumstances of the tumor and preferences of the patient.
Flap procedures use the patient’s own tissue from a donor site to recreate the breast shape. Flaps (either by pedicle or free tissue transfer) can be created from tissue around the abdomen or back, depending on the patient’s preference and the amount of donor tissue available in each area. A flap procedure usually requires a few nights a night or two in the hospital, since surgery is performed on both the breasts and the donor site at the same time. The advantage is may be a more natural look and feel than implants although the addition of an implant may be needed if insufficient tissue is available. The results may also last longer, since implants often need to be replaced at some future time.
Breast cancer is a frightening diagnosis and the choices following the news can seem overwhelming. Dr. Rappaport will work with you and your oncology team to determine the best reconstruction options for your specific situation. It is best to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rappaport prior to your mastectomy so that he can explain your options at the most opportune time in the process. To learn more, contact Houston Center for Plastic Surgery at (713) 790-4500.