For a lot of women, a diagnosis of breast cancer can be psychologically traumatizing. The treatments necessary to survive cancer can be even more so. Many women who undergo a partial or complete mastectomy are unaware that they have options to reconstruct and restore the breast. This procedure can be done either as part of a mastectomy or after other cancer treatments are complete. Breast reconstruction has the potential to improve a woman’s quality of life after a mastectomy.
Many women who undergo a mastectomy report a loss of self-confidence or reduced sense of femininity, especially during the early recovery stages. Breast reconstruction can reverse these effects and restore a woman’s ideal body appearance.
Some women find they suffer embarrassment or social stigma after a mastectomy. This can cause a significant decrease in a patient’s quality of life. By restoring their pre-mastectomy appearance, these conditions may be treated.
Studies have shown that breast reconstruction following a mastectomy can have significant psychological benefits. These effects can also have corresponding knock-on effects on the rest of a patient’s health and quality of life.
There are two main breast reconstruction options: breast implant-based reconstruction and autologous reconstruction (which uses natural tissue to reconstruct the breasts). The nipple and areola are often preserved and, therefore, do not need to be reconstructed.
Implant-based breast reconstruction can be performed in one stage (direct-to-implant reconstruction) or two stages (tissue expander and implant). As with cosmetic breast augmentation, patients may choose either saline or silicone implants. Most women choose to use silicone implants because they more closely resemble the look and feel of natural breasts.
During the mastectomy, if there is enough tissue coverage, an implant can be placed immediately. This reconstruction method is becoming more and more common.
With two-stage reconstruction, a device called a tissue expander will be placed underneath the chest muscles. After a waiting period of several weeks, when Dr. Hadeed is confident that the incisions have healed, he will add saline to the tissue expanders during visits to his office. As he adds volume to the tissue expanders, the skin on the chest will gradually start to expand. After the patient is satisfied with their breast size, they will need a second surgery to remove the tissue expanders and replace them with long-term breast implants.
Some women choose to undergo autologous breast reconstruction using their own body tissues. This is usually performed at the time of the mastectomy, although Dr. Hadeed will typically delay the reconstruction for women who need radiation treatment after surgery. This form of reconstruction usually results in a more natural look than can be achieved with implants.
The donor tissues are transferred from another part of the body, usually the lower abdomen, up to the chest. During this highly delicate surgery, the donor tissues’ tiny blood vessels are reattached to the recipient blood vessels in the mastectomy site using a microscope. Although the recovery time for this procedure is longer, the results tend to be longer-lasting than implant-based reconstruction.
Most patients will need assistance in the first two or three weeks after surgery with basic household chores such as cooking, cleaning, driving, etc. During the first two weeks, patients should avoid any activities that put pressure or tension on the breast area. This will include adjusting sleep patterns to avoid pressure on the breasts. Most patients will be able to resume daily activities within four to six weeks. Patients should wait to resume vigorous activities until cleared by Dr. Hadeed.
Breast reconstruction results can vary depending on the type of reconstruction chosen but will usually provide a reasonable recreation of an anatomically accurate breast mound.
Your reconstructed breast may not match your natural one. If this is the case, Dr. Hadeed may suggest further procedures if desired, as described in the FAQ below.
Breast reconstruction will result in scarring. Fortunately, these scars are easily concealed under clothing. The extent of scarring will vary depending on the reconstruction technique used. Autologous breast reconstruction will leave scars in the area the donor tissue is taken from.
The cost of breast reconstruction can vary depending on the extent of the procedure, the chosen technique, and the complexity of the operation. The price of breast reconstruction may also vary due to changes in surgical and anesthesia fees, anesthesiologist fees, facility fees, and more. Dr. Hadeed will provide you with a personalized quote after your consultation.
My experience with Dr. Hadeed exceeded my expectations! Not only am I incredibly happy and satisfied with my surgery results, I was very impressed by his warmth, expertise, and professionalism…
Any woman who has undergone or will be undergoing a mastectomy or partial mastectomy is a potential candidate for breast reconstruction. Patients should be in reasonably good health and should not expect further cancer treatments following their mastectomy before undergoing this procedure.
If you are considering breast reconstruction, Dr. Hadeed will meet with you for a consultation to discuss your questions and concerns and explain the details of breast reconstruction surgery. He will work with you and your other physicians, including your oncologist, to determine a surgical plan that best suits your individual needs to create your desired results.
Several techniques can be used to perform reconstructive breast surgery, and each reconstruction option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Certain factors should be considered when determining the optimal technique, including a woman’s body type, history of previous abdominal surgeries, and the potential need for chemotherapy or radiation treatments after a mastectomy. Dr. Hadeed will determine which method can help you achieve your goals based on your anatomy and specific needs.
Some patients choose to have their breast reconstruction done as part of the same operation as their mastectomy. Others choose to wait until they know for sure their cancer has been removed. You should consult with Dr. Hadeed about which option is best for you. If you have reason to believe that you will require further cancer treatments, Dr. Hadeed will likely advise you to wait until those treatments are completed before undergoing breast reconstruction.
This operation is performed under general anesthesia for the initial surgery. This is done to reduce the patient’s pain and discomfort. If the patient is using tissue expanders for breast reconstruction, the process may require local anesthesia at times.
There are several options for making the opposite breast as balanced and symmetrical as possible to the reconstructed breast. It can be lifted higher with a breast lift, made smaller with a breast reduction, or enlarged with a breast augmentation. These breast procedures may be done simultaneously with reconstruction, or Dr. Hadeed may recommend waiting until your reconstructed breast results are apparent before determining the best procedure(s) for creating symmetry.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with breast reconstruction. These risks can vary depending on the technique used. Risk factors may also change depending on the timing of the surgery and further cancer treatments. Some risks may include the following:
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Before and After Photos - individual results may vary – Some images may be models