Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy has both cosmetic and psychological benefits. Not only do these procedures restore the look and feel of natural breasts, but they also help women regain their confidence and a sense of normalcy after cancer treatments. The way in which these treatments are performed is largely reflective of the amount of breast tissue that has been removed during mastectomy procedures and the patient’s goals for reconstruction.
When to Have Breast Reconstruction Performed
Women who wish to forgo reconstructive procedures entirely can use prosthetics to create the illusion of full breasts, or they can gradually adapt to the physical changes that their mastectomy surgeries have created. In some instances, reconstructive procedures can be started immediately after the patient’s mastectomy surgery for greater psychological and cosmetic benefits. However, there is always the option to have the breasts reconstructed at any point in the future, so long as the patient remains in good health and is cancer-free.
Different Options in Reconstructive Surgery
There are two basic ways in which reconstructive breast surgeries can be performed. Doctors can use saline or silicone-filled implants to create full and balanced breasts, or they can restore lost tissue with tissue that has been transplanted from the back, belly or thighs. This second method is known as autologous or flap reconstruction. With implant reconstruction, it will be necessary for the patient to have her implants replaced once every ten years. Conversely, autologous surgeries do not require any follow-up procedures once these treatments are complete.
Some mastectomies are far less invasive than others are which minimizes the amount of reconstructive work that must be performed. For instance, nipple-sparing mastectomies preserve the nipples and much of the surrounding breast tissue. In these instances, autologous reconstruction can provide very impressive results given that minimal tissue must be transplanted to restore the look and feel of the natural breasts. When tissue removal is extensive, implant procedures are usually recommended.
The Benefits of Breast Implants
Each method of breast reconstruction has both benefits and drawbacks. In most instances, implant procedures tend to be easier to perform and easier for patients to recover from. Flaps or autologous procedures are more time-consuming and have a longer recovery period, given that the patient will be dealing with both the reconstructive process and the additional stress of tissue donation. It is important to note, however, that flaps tend to perform far better over time and in the event of nipple-sparing mastectomies, they can supply the best and most natural-looking improvements. Although flap surgeries are more challenging on the front-end, patients do not have to contend with implant replacement procedures once every decade.
How to Decide Which Option Is Right For You
Scheduling a consultation appointment with us at Athena Plastic Surgery will give you the chance to learn more about each of these procedures and the way in which they are performed. Based upon your cancer treatment plan, the expected magnitude of tissue removal and your short and long-term goals, Dr. Avron H. Lipschitz will recommend some individualized solutions. With the help of our highly trained staff, we can make you feel at ease. In some instances, a combination of both implant and autologous procedures can be performed for an easier treatment plan and optimal results.