Breast Reconstruction is a procedure which aims to rebuild one or both breasts after a woman has undergone a partial or full mastectomy. The treatment may include using implants or your own tissue and skin to recreate natural-looking breasts. The surgery is intended to realign or restore your body shape and improve your self-confidence.
Breast Reconstruction is a surgery for women who have had a partial or full mastectomy. A mastectomy or breast-preserving surgery, when only part of the breast tissue is removed, is usually done to treat breast cancer or as a preventative measure against the disease. The surgery aims to either reconstruct both breasts or one breast to match the shape and size of the remaining breast. More than one surgery may be required in order to achieve the results you want. Breast Reconstruction can be done months or years after your original surgery. Radiotherapy can increase the risk of capsular contracture, which is hard scar tissue forming around an implant or your own tissue used in reconstruction. It is, therefore, recommended to undergo the reconstruction up to 12 months after your treatment has finished. Breast implants can be inserted either under or over the muscle to form a new breast. Implants are usually recommended for women with small to medium-sized, firm breasts. Depending on the size of the remaining breast, an additional surgery to reduce its size may be needed in order to create evenly-sized and natural-looking breasts. Surgical reconstruction of the nipple can also be done during the insertion of the implant or at a later date as an outpatient procedure. Some women choose to tattoo a nipple and areola on or use a prosthetic nipple which sticks on to the skin. Natural tissue flap surgery is another option that uses fat, muscle and skin from your body instead of implants. There are several different techniques that take skin and tissue from various parts of the body, including the thighs, buttocks, back and abdomen.
1. Consultation The first step is to consult with your surgeon to discuss your individual circumstances and the results you would like. You will choose the most suitable technique which could depend on your remaining breast tissue, your body shape and health. If you are unsure of what treatment best works in your case, we can connect you with world-renowned doctors and surgeons who will plan the best course of action for you. Contact us anytime.
2. Surgery On the day of the surgery, you will be given a general anaesthetic and the surgery will take between one and eight hours. If you are undergoing flap surgery, there will be several sessions to prepare the skin and tissue to be used in the reconstruction.
3. Post-op care You will spend anywhere from one to several days in the hospital depending on the type of surgery. You will be informed on how to deal with your bandages and drainage and which exercises you should do to keep mobile.
4. Follow-up Again, recovery time will depend on the type of surgery. Expect swelling and bruising which may take months to go down.
There are several different types of reconstruction which will suit different women depending on their breast size. Your surgeon will help you decide on a technique based on your body type and the breast surgery you have already had.
If there is enough skin remaining on the breast, a standard implant surgery can be done. If there is not enough skin available, a tissue expander implant may be used and gradually inflated to slowly stretch the muscle and skin.
An acellular dermal matrix (ADM) or dermal sling can be used to support breast implants. These animal-based products are attached to the muscle to create a pocket that acts as an internal bra to hold the implant in place and give very natural-looking results. Another reconstruction technique uses flaps of your own skin, fat and muscle to rebuild the breast. The tissue can be taken from your back, lower abdomen, inner thigh or buttock; it is then reshaped to form the new breast. Where the tissue can be taken from will depend on your body size and shape. An ultrasound or CT scan may be used to determine if the blood supply is suitable for the transplant. Flap reconstruction may not be suitable for women with diabetes, those who are heavy smokers or people who are very overweight.
A pedicled flap is one that remains attached to the blood vessels at one end and a free flap is detached from the body and reattached over the breast. The position and type of flap used will depend on your body shape, fat composition and the size of the breast to be reconstructed. Implants may be used in conjunction with this technique to create the correct size of breast. For women with large breasts, it is sometimes necessary to also have breast reduction surgery on the natural breast in order to create a symmetrical appearance.
Most women undergo breast reconstruction to feel more confident with their body and to make their clothes fit better. The majority of women feel empowered by their surgery, which gives them more confidence. Expect some pain, swelling, and bruising after surgery. Your breasts may look uneven and take months to settle into their final position and shape. You will have scarring in various places depending on the reconstruction technique used - this should fade over time. Don't expect reconstructed breasts to feel, look or move in the same way. They will probably be less sensitive or even feel completely numb. Any changes in weight will affect your natural breast but not your reconstructed breast; therefore, you may experience some asymmetry if you lose or gain weight after surgery. If your implant has been placed under the muscle or muscle from another part of your body has been used in the reconstruction, you may be able to see the reconstructed breast move when the muscle contracts. Breast reconstruction will not increase the chances of the breast cancer coming back.