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Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy or Lumpectomy is a highly personal choice. For survivors of breast cancer, breast reconstruction often plays a crucial role in their physical and emotional recovery. It helps them feel whole again and regain what they lost with the removal of their breasts.
What is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that restores the appearance of one’s breasts. It can help you regain your confidence and be able to wear clothes without feeling self-conscious about your chest area. Similarly, the surgery provides symmetry for those who removed a breast due to cancer or other reasons. For some, this surgery may eliminate all signs of their mastectomy or lumpectomy scars. Breast reconstruction surgery can increase breast size.
Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure that uses implants to increase the size of a breast. It is an elective cosmetic surgery that enhances your figure by enlarging and shaping your breasts. Breast augmentation surgery is performed when women lose breast volume as a result of pregnancy, breastfeeding, or weight loss.
How Does Breast Reconstruction Surgery Work?
Breast reconstruction surgery is a highly specialized procedure. It is possible to perform the surgeryat the same time as a Mastectomy or Lumpectomy, or at a later date after the initial surgery. Breast reconstruction is the process of making your breast mound symmetrical after surgery, with or without implants.
Reconstruction is achieved through five different surgical techniques:
1. Surgery to Create Symmetry
The intention of breast reconstructive surgery is to make the breasts look like the original breasts. In order to help restore symmetry the surgery can be performed duringbreast-conserving surgery,mastectomy, and a lumpectomy.
2. Breast Implants
Breast reconstruction can include inserting a saline or silicone implant to add volume and shape to the breasts after breast cancer treatment surgery. With implants, breasts look better in clothes and feel natural to the touch. Implants are inserted alone or in conjunction with other types of breast reconstruction. Breast implant surgery places an implant under the chest muscle and gland tissue after a removal due to cancer, fibroids, trauma, or infection. Breast implants exist in different forms, including:
a) Fibro glandular flap. Breast reconstruction using this technique involves making a flap of fat and skin from the belly or back. The surgeon rolls the flap into the shape of an implant. In order to add volume, it is possible to transfer the breast tissue from these areas to the breasts.
b) Autologous. Here, the surgeon shapes silicone or saline breast implants to mirror your breast mound. After that, breast tissue from another part of your body (usually abdominal fat) is “rolled into a ball.” The surgeon places the “ball” inside an implant pocket in the skin and over the chest wall muscles.
c) Reconstructing with TRAM flap. This technique involves taking a flap of abdominal tissue and shaping it into an implant-shaped breast mound. Breast implants inserted underneath the new breast to give it volume. If enough natural tissue is available in your reconstruction, it is possible to remove the implants.
3. A Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy
Breast reconstruction using this technique involves taking skin, fat, and nipple-areola complex (NAC) tissue from the breast. Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy creates an implant-shaped, natural-looking mound on the remaining chest wall. Breast implants inserted underneath the reconstructed NAC create volume, if needed.
4. Breast Expanders
Tissue expanders are temporary devices for women who have undergone breast removal. The expander inserted under the skin gradually stretches out the tissue. This tissue will be used in future reconstruction procedures.
5. Breast Reduction
Breast reduction is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of large breasts and makes them lighter and firmer. This procedure eliminates or reduces back, neck, and shoulder pain associated with overly large breasts. This surgery reduces breast tissue and skin around them before inserting an implant if required.
What are the Benefits of Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
1. Above all, breast reconstruction restores the confidence and self-esteem of women who have lost their breasts due to cancer or other conditions.
2. Women who have undergone treatment surgeries where they lost their breasts can resume their daily activities, including sports and swimming.
3. Women can wear clothes that they feel comfortable and confident in without drawing attention to the chest area.
4. Breast reconstruction makes the breasts look symmetrical and feel natural to the touch.
A mastectomy or lumpectomy is not the end of the road. Options are available that can provide a positive outcome for women who have had cancer treatment. In short, personal preference is the most important factor when choosing breast reconstruction surgery.
Breast reconstruction will change your physical appearance and has the possibility to offer you a new lease on life with renewed confidence and self-esteem after going through cancer treatment. This surgery is a popular choice for many women because it reduces levels of pain, improves sensation in breasts, and increases overall quality of life.
Breast reconstruction is a big decision. Seek guidance from a plastic surgeon before making a decision.
If you are considering Breast Reconstruction Surgery in the Miami area, get in touch today to book your complimentary consultation with Dr. Castrellón. Together you can discuss your needs and goals in a compassionate and caring environment to give you the information you need to make the best decision for you.
Frequently Ask Questions
Follow your surgeon’s advice on when to begin stretching exercises and normal activities, because it’s different with different types of reconstruction. As a basic rule, you’ll want to avoid overhead lifting, strenuous sports, and some sexual activities for 4 to 6 weeks after reconstruction.
That said, it usually takes about three to six months for swelling to subside and for your breast to achieve a final shape, but it may take longer, particularly for patients who received radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment.
You can expect to feel the most pain in the first one to three days after surgery. Your breasts and chest are likely to feel sore but you may also feel some stabbing or shooting pains. Your surgeon will prescribe you with pain medication to manage this.
Your breast implants may appear to be bigger or fuller once they’ve dropped to a lower, more natural-looking position on your chest and “fluffed” into a rounder and softer shape. Changes in the size or shape of your new breasts after augmentation can also occur as swelling and tightness subside.
However, it’s important that you don’t sleep on your side or roll onto your side in your sleep. This could put pressure on the implant or your incisions as you heal, which may affect your results. My patients can typically return to side sleeping (while wearing a supportive bra) within 2 weeks.