Breast cancer treatment can be a frightening ordeal. Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is often the final step – a step that can bring a sense of closure. For many women, breast reconstruction helps them feel like themselves again and gives them a feeling of hope and healing.
Choosing what type of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy can be an emotional decision. It’s essential to talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of each so that you get the best outcome for yourself.
Three Types of Breast Reconstruction
Some reconstruction procedures can be done at the same time as the surgery to remove the cancer. Other types can be done as a separate surgery. It could even be months or years later.
There are three main methods of breast reconstruction:
1. Tissue transfer
Tissue transfer uses skin, fat, and muscle from other parts of your body to recreate breasts. The tissue can be taken from the:
- Abdomen – TRAM / DIEP Flap
- Back – Latissimus Flap
In general, tissue transfer results in breasts that look and feel more natural than implants.
2. Tissue expander and implant
For tissue expansion, an empty silicone expander with a port is placed under the skin immediately after the mastectomy. Over the next four to six months, the expander is filled with saline or silicone gel at intervals to gently, gradually stretch the tissue. When the expander is full, a breast implant is then inserted.
Although the process takes several months, the tissue expander and implant method result in breasts that look like your own pre-mastectomy chest.
Oncoplasty includes reconstruction during surgery to remove the cancer. It’s a combination of surgical oncology and plastic surgery. This method can be used for a lumpectomy or partial to full mastectomy.
During the procedure, the surgeon will sculpt and reshape the affected breast(s) and can also reshape a non-affected breast to create symmetry. When oncoplasty is an option, the patient benefits from keeping her own tissue and only needing one surgery for both cancer removal and breast reconstruction.
What Type of Reconstruction is Best for You?
Choosing which type of breast reconstruction is a very personal decision, and there are many factors to consider as you and your doctor determine the right choice for you. You may already have a personal preference, but it’s also important to consider other factors, like:
- Your health and lifestyle
- The extent of your cancer and reconstructive surgery
- Factors that might affect your healing
- Your breast and body size (you need enough tissue for reconstruction)
- How important symmetry is to you
- Your ability or willingness to have more than one surgery
- How each type of surgery might affect your body
Together, you and your surgeon can discuss these and other questions about breast reconstruction so you can be confident you’re making the right choice for your unique needs.
Breast Reconstruction is a Significant Milestone
Breast reconstruction is a significant milestone in your cancer treatment. It’s a huge step in moving forward with your life and letting you feel like yourself again. When you’re happy with how you look and feel after breast reconstruction, you’ll move forward into your cancer recovery with more self-confidence.
We are ready to help you through your next stage of cancer recovery. Schedule a complimentary consultation today!