Women may opt for breast reconstruction surgery after they have had a mastectomy. It can be performed right after the mastectomy or after a waiting period depending on the specifics of the case.
There are two main options available now for breast reconstruction: breast implants and flap reconstruction. Dr. Pazmiño will help you decide on the right option depending on your preferences, the nature of your mastectomy, your body’s shape, the cancer treatment you are undergoing, and your overall health.
You can choose saline or silicone breast implants for your breast reconstruction. Implants are an excellent way to restore volume. Before the implants can be inserted, the tissues of the chest may be stretched using a special prosthetic device called a tissue expander.
You will need to visit Dr. Pazmiño to get the tissue expanders gradually filled with saline over the course of several months. Once the tissues have expanded to the point where they can accommodate implants, the expanders are removed and long-lasting implants are inserted. The whole process can take up to six months after the mastectomy.
In some cases, it may not be necessary to use tissue expanders, meaning the implants can be directly used after mastectomy.
Flap reconstruction involves the use of a woman’s own tissues to reconstruct the breasts. Popular donor areas include the abdomen (TRAM flap) and the back (latissimus dorsi flap). If you don’t have enough abdominal tissue for breast reconstruction, tissues from the buttocks or thighs may be used.
During surgery, the tissues may be connected to their original blood supply (pedicled flap) or disconnected from it (free flap). In the case of a free flap, the tissues are reattached at the breast site for a new blood supply.
Choosing Your Breast-Reconstruction Procedure
Flap reconstruction may be ideal for you if you want your new breasts to look completely natural. Some women also feel comforted by the fact that their own tissues are used to reconstruct their breasts.
But implants can look natural, too, particularly saline implants, and even regular silicone implants, at least in texture. Silicone implants are available only in round shapes; if you prefer a more natural teardrop shape, you may need saline implants.
Flap reconstruction also doesn’t require any maintenance surgeries, unlike the implant procedure. Implants can require maintenance surgery years down the line; you may need to replace the implants after 10 years or so. You also need to visit your doctor every few years to get them checked and evaluated.
However, the flap procedure takes longer to perform than implant surgery. If you do not want to put yourself through hours of a second surgery, implants might be the better option for you. Even if you get it done right after a mastectomy, the combined surgery can become quite long. With implants, your recovery time can also be shorter than the flap procedure’s healing period.
Implants may be right for you if there is enough skin available on the chest to cover the inserted devices. When the remaining skin is insufficient for implants, a flap procedure may be used along with implants.
Set Up A Reconstruction Consultation
Dr. Pat Pazmiño, an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon, will be happy to help you decide on the right reconstruction procedure for your case during a consultation. Make an appointment for your consultation by contacting our office.