Breast reconstruction is a process that involves rebuilding your breast tissue and surrounding areas by using tissue expanders, implants, tissue flaps or fat transfers. The goal of reconstruction is to provide you with a natural silhouette that’s similar to your original body outline. At The Bougainvillea Clinique in Winter Park, FL, we can help you fall in love with your body again through our reconstruction services. Let our team help you feel beautiful again.
Reasons for Breast Reconstruction
When you are diagnosed with breast cancer, there’s a possibility that you may need to remove your breasts all together to stop the cancer cells from spreading. When this is the recommended method of treatment, you don’t have to move forward without breasts at all. Reconstruction is available so you can return your body’s shape back to what it was before your initial procedure.
Typically, reconstruction surgery is used after a mastectomy, but it can be performed after a lumpectomy as well. On top of rebuilding your breasts after a mastectomy or lumpectomy, you can schedule a reconstructive surgery to:
- Make your chest look more balanced
- Make your clothes fit better
- Permanently create an ideal breast shape
- Eliminate the need for an external breast form
- Feel better about your appearance
After a mastectomy, reconstruction procedures can give you the opportunity to uplift your self-confidence and feel comfortable in your own body again. Once you decide reconstruction surgery is a path you want to take, we will talk to you about breast size, shape and contour and help you achieve your goals.
When Is Reconstruction Done?
This procedure can be done at different times, depending on what works best for your current situation. There are three different options to choose from when you’re trying to determine at what time you should get this procedure done. There’s an immediate reconstruction, a delayed reconstruction and a staged approach to reconstruction.
Since breast cancer can often be handled by removing the breast tissue, sometimes a mastectomy is the best option for a patient. However, if you don’t want to undergo multiple surgeries between your mastectomy and breast reconstruction, consider getting an immediate reconstruction. An immediate reconstruction allows a plastic surgeon to perform the reconstruction immediately after the mastectomy is completed. This means that your reconstruction surgery and mastectomy are done at the same time.
This option requires that your surgeon and plastic surgeon work together to remove any affected tissue and rebuild your chest area to the specifications that you already discussed. However, if you need additional treatments after the mastectomy, your doctor may recommend doing a partial reconstruction during the mastectomy and continue the reconstruction at a later time. It’s always important to discuss all of your potential options with your doctor before making any surgical decisions.
A mastectomy is typically used to remove all cancer cells and prevent the cancer from spreading. If the procedure does not remove all of the cells, your doctor may prescribe chemotherapy or radiation to treat the affected areas. If this is the case, your best option could be a delayed reconstruction. Delayed reconstruction is recommended if you had a mastectomy or lumpectomy and want to reconstruct your breasts but still have other treatment methods in play.
Chemotherapy and radiation are tough on the body, which is why it’s not recommended to perform reconstruction until those treatments are complete. That way, when your reconstruction is complete, you can enjoy full and symmetrical breasts without worrying about any complications between the medicine and your implants. Talk with your doctor about the best way forward in regards to your treatment and delayed reconstruction.
Staged Approach/Delayed-Immediate Reconstruction
This procedure is one of the newer techniques when it comes to reconstruction surgeries. It involves doing partial reconstruction after a mastectomy or lumpectomy, but it uses a tissue expander instead of an implant to preserve the skin around your breasts. This allows you to maintain your chest area without implants throughout your chemotherapy or radiation. Once the treatment methods are complete, your plastic surgeon will remove the tissue expander and replace it with a traditional implant.
This process allows your skin to maintain its shape even if you have to proceed with other treatment methods on top of a mastectomy or lumpectomy. The tissue expander can be deflated or inflated based on the effects of your treatment. Our team would be more than happy to discuss all of your options with you so you can determine the best way forward.
Benefits of Reconstruction Surgery
Although coping with breast cancer is immensely difficult, reconstruction surgery could help you move forward. By reconstructing your breasts, you can feel confident in your own body again. Having a mastectomy can feel devastating, which is why there are multiple options and solutions when you want to return your body back to the way it was. Depending on your situation, you could receive an immediate, delayed or delayed-immediate breast reconstruction surgery. There are many physical and mental benefits that come from reconstruction, including:
Getting a mastectomy or lumpectomy is difficult. You may feel like you’re losing a part of yourself or don’t recognize the person you see in the mirror. Reconstruction surgery has the ability to give you breasts that will help you feel confident in your own skin again. Your confidence plays a large role in your mental well-being, as well. By undergoing reconstruction, you can start to feel like yourself again.
Reduced Psychological Distress
Cancer can be catastrophic, and when you have to sacrifice a part of yourself to beat it, that takes its toll on your mental health. Reconstructive surgeries can help you replace the parts that were lost and slowly reduce the pain associated with the procedure. Pain isn’t always just physical. Each reconstruction can give you peace of mind moving forward. By calming your mind and falling back in love with yourself, you can start to curate a healthy sexual, physical and mental state of mind.
Improved Quality of Life
There are a number of things you do every single day that are actually influenced by your breast size or shape. How your clothes fit you, how you sleep at night and how you feel exercising can all be altered based on your breasts. By scheduling a reconstructive surgery, you can regain a sense of normalcy. You won’t have to worry about how your clothes fit or wear prosthetics when you choose to undergo reconstruction procedures. Reconstruction has also been loosely tied to increasing survival rates among breast cancer patients.
Risks Associated With This Procedure
Surgery is intense, which means that there are always some risks associated with it. For reconstruction surgery, your plastic surgeon will go over all of the potential risks with you. However, reconstruction surgery is a very personal experience. It’s up to you to decide if you believe the risks associated with the surgery are outweighed by the benefits. Some possible risks associated with reconstruction include:
- Infection around the incisions
- Loss of sensation in surrounding tissue
- Formation of scar tissue
- Accumulation of fluid in the breast
There are also different risks associated with different types of implants. Talk with your doctor to determine what potential associated risks could affect you during this type of surgery.
What to Expect
Reconstruction procedures can be performed right after your mastectomy or at a later date. The procedure entails placing an implant or tissue expander in the breast to replace the natural breast tissue that was there. You will consult with your plastic surgeon to determine if implants or tissue expanders are the best option for you and your body. Your body type, health status and method of cancer treatment are all factors that need to be considered before your doctor can recommend a particular way forward.
Based on your current breast shape, your plastic surgeon will recommend an implant or tissue expander that will be most similar to your current shape. It’s recommended to avoid alcohol and cigarettes before your surgery. Your doctor will also discuss what medications you can or cannot take before and after the procedure. If you’re getting breast reconstruction during a mastectomy, these guidelines may be different, and your post-surgery protocol can change drastically from a delayed reconstruction.
Regardless of when you get your reconstruction surgery done, you should expect some discomfort, swelling and bruising. Your doctor will go over exactly what you can expect based on your specific reconstruction surgery.
Methods and Processes
Although reconstructions procedures give you the same end result, there are a few different ways to get there. Every procedure and body is different, which is why it’s important to discuss with your doctor what the best plan of action is for you. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made before your surgery to make sure that you’re getting the end result that you want. Based on your procedure, needs and goals, there are three procedure options that can give you the chest that you want.
Implants or Prosthetics
Breast implants can be made up of silicone gel or saline. Each implant is a teardrop shape to mimic the natural look of a breast. Your plastic surgeon can place the implant in front of or behind your chest muscles. If you choose to have the implant placed in front of your muscle, special tissue will be placed to keep the implant in place. Over time, your body will replace that tissue with natural collagen to support the implant.
Based on your mastectomy and desired type of reconstruction surgery, it could take more than one surgical procedure to correctly implant your new breasts. Your plastic surgeon will discuss with you what to expect and how many surgical procedures you’ll need to reach the desired end result.
A tissue expander allows for your body to maintain the breast cavity without having any physical implants placed in your breasts. Doctors use this technique to keep the chest shape before your reconstruction is complete, and they can be used even if you’re going through chemotherapy or radiation.
The tissue expander works like a balloon. It can be deflated or inflated with saline-based on how swollen the surrounding areas are. They can also be customized to fill the breast skin to your original breast size before reconstruction. By placing a tissue expander, your doctor can help you control your level of discomfort. Once your body has healed and the tissue has helped your skin conform to your original shape, your plastic surgeon can remove the tissue expander and replace it with a permanent implant.
Rebuilding your breasts is a more natural way to perform your reconstruction. Fat transfers can give you precise and refined results with minimal scarring. This process is also called lipo-filling since we are harvesting fat from a different section of your body and placing it where your natural breasts used to be. The goal of using a fat grafting technique is to reduce downtime and the risks associated with reconstructive surgeries. There’s even a possibility of regaining sensation in your breast skin when using this technique compared to implants and tissue expanders.
We simply use gentle liposuction techniques to transfer fat from different areas of your body to rebuild your natural breasts. Since this technique is the most natural option for reconstruction, it leaves little to no scarring and will allow you to get back on your feet faster than traditional reconstruction with implants.
What Reconstruction Surgery Can Do for You
Despite the circumstances leading up to your reconstruction surgery, you deserve to feel good about yourself. This procedure can help you replace what was lost during a mastectomy or lumpectomy with a permanent solution so you can continue to enjoy your natural shape. Breast reconstruction surgery has the ability to give you:
- Breast symmetry
- Breast contour
- Freedom from prosthetics
This surgery also has the ability to erase the physical reminders that you have from your mastectomy or lumpectomy. After the procedure is complete, you may feel an improved sense of self-esteem and a healthy body image.
If you’re looking for a viable option that lets you take charge of your own body, feel comfortable in all of your clothes and feel confident in your own skin, breast reconstruction surgery could be a solution for you.
Every type of surgery has its own list of risks and potential complications, but breast reconstruction surgery can help you regain what was lost during your fight against breast cancer. Your doctor can recommend an immediate, delayed or delayed-immediate reconstruction process based on your current health and treatment protocol. You can choose between placing an implant right away or using tissue expanders to help your body heal around the tissue cavity before your doctor replaces the tissue expander with a permanent implant.
There are multiple conversations you can have with your plastic surgeon about breast symmetry, contouring and size. You can achieve a similar silhouette after your mastectomy or lumpectomy by undergoing breast reconstruction surgery. Contact The Bougainvillea Clinique in Winter Park, FL today so we can walk you through all of your options so you’re confident in your choices and yourself.