A breast cancer diagnosis is the beginning of a journey that involves numerous decisions about your care. Many women undergo a single or double mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment, which means they need to consider whether they want to adapt to their new bustline, wear prosthetics or have breast reconstruction surgery. This is a personal and emotional decision with no one answer that is right for everyone. After exploring your options, you must make the choice that feels right for you.
The Advanced Aesthetics Plastic Surgery team is proud to be a leading provider of breast reconstruction surgery in Fayetteville and the surrounding areas. Breast reconstruction can rebuild your body and help you feel like your complete self again. If you choose to undergo breast reconstruction, our knowledgeable and compassionate surgeons will work with you to create a surgical plan that gives you beautiful, natural results.
What Types of Breast Reconstruction Are Available?
Surgeons have developed many different approaches to breast reconstruction. There are two primary techniques for reconstructing the breasts:
- Implant reconstruction involves the use of a saline- or silicone-filled implant to restore the shape and fullness of the breast.
- Autologous reconstruction, also known as flap reconstruction, uses tissue transplanted from another area of the body to rebuild the breast mound.
Both options can be performed at the time of a mastectomy or as a separate surgery after healing from the mastectomy is complete. Your healthcare team will help you choose the timing and reconstruction technique that work best for your particular circumstances. At Advanced Aesthetics, we offer three choices for breast reconstruction.
What Is Tissue Expander Reconstruction?
Tissue expander reconstruction is a two-stage procedure that uses an implant to rebuild the breast. First, a tissue expander is placed in the breast area at the time of mastectomy. Saline is gradually added to the expander over the course of a few weeks until it has reached your desired size for your reconstructed breast. Then, during a second surgery, the tissue expander is removed and replaced with a long-term breast implant of your choosing. Tissue expander reconstruction can be the better choice if you do not have sufficient tissue to reconstruct the breast using autologous methods, if you’d like to avoid incisions elsewhere on your body, or if you can’t or don’t want to undergo the more lengthy operation and recovery of a flap reconstruction. It is also more appropriate for women who do not need radiation treatment after their mastectomy, as radiation following implant reconstruction can lead to complications.
What Is Latissimus Dorsi Flap Reconstruction?
Latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction is a tissue transfer technique in which a section of muscle, fat, skin and blood vessels is moved from your upper back to your breast area. The tissue is used to recreate the breast and the blood vessels are left attached to their original blood supply in your back. This technique can be paired with a breast implant if you desire additional volume in your reconstructed breast.
While the skin on your back may be slightly different in color and texture than the skin of your breasts, results from this type of reconstruction typically look and feel very natural. Latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction can be a good option for women who are not good candidates for other flap procedures, who desire small to medium-sized breasts, and do not participate in sports or other activities that place excessive stress on the latissimus dorsi area.
What Is TRAM Reconstruction?
A transverse rectus abdominis flap reconstruction, or TRAM reconstruction, is another autologous technique. The procedure is similar to the latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction, but rather than taking a section of tissue from the back, a TRAM reconstruction uses tissue from the abdomen. Because the abdomen often has more fat than the upper back, there may be no need to use a breast implant to create additional volume.
A TRAM reconstruction involves the most intensive surgery and longest recovery of these three options. Though this technique leaves a horizontal scar across the low belly, many women prefer it because it simultaneously reconstructs the breasts and flattens the abdomen. TRAM reconstruction may not be the right option for thin women who do not have enough excess abdominal tissue, women who plan to get pregnant or women who have already had abdominal surgeries.
Is Nipple Reconstruction an Option?
Regardless of which breast reconstruction technique you choose, you can also decide whether or not you want to reconstruct your nipple. This is a second procedure that is done after your reconstructed breast has had time to heal. Nipple reconstruction is performed by creating a local skin flap on the breast mound. An AlloDerm graft — a graft that is formulated from skin tissue that has been processed to remove the cells while retaining its important structural components — is used to give shape and volume to the reconstructed nipple. When recovery from the procedure is complete, the areola is recreated with tattooing.
In some cases, nipple reconstruction is unnecessary because the nipple and the surrounding breast skin can be preserved during mastectomy. This is known as a ‘nipple-sparing’ mastectomy.
How Do I Know Which Breast Reconstruction Option Is Right for Me?
When you lose a breast to cancer, it can be comforting to know that there are options available for restoring your health and body. Women can get excellent cosmetic results with today’s advanced breast reconstruction procedures and innovators in the field are continuing to refine their techniques.
After a mastectomy, there are several questions you must answer. Should I have breast reconstruction? When should I have the procedure? Which surgical approach is best for me? It’s important to make these decisions in close collaboration with your surgeon and the rest of your healthcare team. If you know someone who had breast reconstruction, you may find it helpful to talk to her about her decision process, her experience with the surgery and recovery, and her satisfaction with the results. A combination of professional guidance and your own personal research can help you make the most informed decision.
No matter what your physical needs and aesthetic goals are after a mastectomy, there are breast reconstruction options that can give you your body and your confidence back. The caring team of Advanced Aesthetics Plastic Surgery can help you design a plan for reconstruction that is just right for you. Call 770-461-4000 today to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations in Fayetteville, Newnan and McDonough.