Breast reconstruction is a procedure in which a breast is restored following mastectomy. While similar in some ways to breast enhancement, it is more extensive, and almost always consists of more than one procedure.
Breast Mound Reconstruction
The first stage of breast reconstruction surgery involves recreating the breast mound. This can sometimes be done during the same procedure as the mastectomy, or it can be performed separately.
One of the first issues that must be addressed during breast reconstruction is the loss of skin due to the mastectomy. Some women may have sufficient skin available that they will not require one of these procedures, but for most, the first step involves recreating sufficient skin to cover the reconstructed breast. This is done using either skin expansion or flap reconstruction, both of which are described below.
This is the most commonly used technique for breast reconstruction surgery involves allowing the skin to slowly regrow using an expandable implant placed under the skin, which is slowly expanded to allow the covering skin to stretch. Some expanders can be simply left in to serve as a final implant, while others must be removed later and replaced with permanent breast implants, in a procedure similar to breast augmentation.
Flap reconstruction is an alternative to skin expansion. This technique involves transferring skin from another part of the body-usually the abdomen or the back.
Flap reconstruction surgery is far more complicated than skin expansion surgery, requires more recovery time, and leaves more extensive scarring, to both the breast and to the donor site, but some patients believe that it produces more natural looking results.
In many cases, the breast mound reconstruction is followed up with procedures to complete reconstruction of the breast.
These procedures might include one or more of the following:
- Reconstruction of the nipple and areola
- Replacement of a tissue expander with a permanent implant
- Breast lift or enhancement to the other breast, to create symmetry
Your surgeon will discuss your options for reconstructive surgery with you in detail so that you'll know just what to expect before you begin the process.
If you have any other questions about breast reconstruction, or if you'd like to schedule an appointment for a consultation in the Cadillac and Traverse City, Michigan area, please give us a call at 616.454.1256 if you're local to Grand Rapids, MI, or toll free at 800.968.7474.