Many women who have endured the unsettling loss of a breast due to cancer have re-gained the natural shape of their bust line through breast reconstruction surgery. For breast reconstruction patients, regaining their whole, feminine body often rebuilds self-confidence and self-image, thereby improving quality of life.
What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction replaces a breast removed during a mastectomy by using an implant, or the patient’s own tissue. In both types of breast reconstruction procedures, a woman can regain her feminine curves and self-image.
Who is a good candidate for breast reconstruction surgery?
Breast reconstruction can be performed on most mastectomy patients either immediately at the time of mastectomy or at a later time. Immediate reconstruction may benefit the patient psychologically. Your surgeon can help you decide when you should undergo breast reconstruction.
Are there any risks involved in breast reconstruction surgery?
Breast reconstruction, like all surgery, carries with it the typical risks of bleeding, infection and problems with anesthesia. These complications are rare. Specific risks involving breast implants are capsular contracture — or the tightening of the scar tissue around the implant. This condition, though infrequent, can make the breast feel hard, but can be easily treated by removing the scar tissue that has formed and replacing the implant.
Though breast reconstruction has no known relationship to the recurrence of cancer, periodic mammograms are advised. The patient should be certain to visit a medical facility that can reliably x-ray an implant-reconstructed breast.
How do I plan for breast reconstruction surgery?
Because many candidates for reconstructive surgery are cancer patients, you can begin to discuss your options for breast reconstruction as soon as you are diagnosed. It is best for your breast surgeon and the doctors at Aestique® Medical Center to work together. Some patients are candidates to have the mastectomy and reconstruction performed on an outpatient basis at our surgical center.
At Aestique® we offer a full range of breast reconstruction options. This allows us to customize a plan that is appropriate to your age, health, anatomy, tissue quality and cosmetic goals. During your initial consultation, you should be frank with the surgeon about your expectations and ask any questions as you discuss your options and medical history. At this time, you will also discuss insurance coverage for your procedure.
What happens during breast reconstruction surgery?
Reconstructive surgery usually occurs in two stages: the creation of the new breast, and creation of the nipple. General anesthesia is almost always used in the first stage. Follow-up procedures may only require local anesthesia or local with sedation. It is preferable to wait at least two months between these stages to allow the newly created breast mound to settle in its new position.
There are two major types of reconstructive surgery: skin expansion and flap reconstruction.
Skin expansion is the most common technique used for breast reconstruction. During the surgery, an implant or implant expander is inserted beneath the skin and chest muscle and is gradually filled with saline over several weeks, or months through a valve beneath the skin. A permanent implant is placed after the skin has stretched to the desired size. At this time, the nipple and areola reconstruction can also take place. Depending on the degree of skin laxity present before the procedure begins, a permanent implant may be inserted without the need for skin expansion.
Flap Reconstruction (Lattisimus Flap)
In flap reconstruction, a Pittsburgh breast reconstruction patient’s own tissue is used to create coverage for the breast implant. A section of tissue that includes skin, muscle and fat is shifted from the back (where it remains attached to maintain blood flow) and tunneled beneath the skin to replace the removed breast.
TRAM Flap Reconstruction
This breast reconstruction technique utilizes skin, muscle and fat from the abdomen to create the breast. Though this technique is more complex and requires a longer recovery, many women appreciate the natural feel of a breast reconstructed using this method.
Will I need any follow-up procedures?
Follow-up procedures depend on your own needs, but they may include reconstruction of the nipple and areola, or altering the natural breast to match the reconstructed breast.
How long is the recovery after breast reconstruction?
Overall, it may take up to six weeks to recover from breast reconstruction surgery. Tiredness and soreness are typical during the first two weeks. Most sutures will be removed within a week to 10 days of surgery. Any scars left after surgery will fade after a year or two, but may remain slightly visible.
Dr. Lazzaro will give you specific guidelines to follow during your recovery based on your personal needs. In general, patients recovering from breast reconstruction surgery should refrain from overhead lifting, strenuous sports and sexual activity for three to six weeks following surgery.
You can expect the new breast to be slightly different from your natural breast. The reconstructed breast may feel firmer or look rounder or flatter than before. For most breast reconstruction Pittsburgh patients, the new look they achieve through breast reconstruction dramatically improves their overall appearance, self-confidence and quality of life.
Does insurance cover breast reconstruction surgery?
Though insurance coverage varies, insurance usually covers all procedures to recreate the removed breast, as well as all procedures that are necessary to achieve symmetry with the opposite breast.
Breast Reconstruction Surgery at Aestique® Medical Center*
At Aestique® Medical Center, we combine compassion with the latest breast reduction surgery near Johnstown and the city of Pittsburgh.