Breast Reconstruction

A woman who has been fighting breast cancer may have finally turned the corner and is cancer-free. But after a mastectomy or dual mastectomy, she can be depressed at the thought of her future without breasts. At Elite Plastic Surgery, our board-certified plastic surgeons use various methods to reconstruct the breasts in these cases. Reconstruction is a surgery that can be immensely gratifying for the patient, totally changing their self-image.

Our team at Elite has extensive experience in the various methods used for breast reconstruction. Plus, our entire staff will help you through the entire reconstruction and recovery process.

Here is some information on breast reconstruction.

Timing

Most mastectomy patients are medically appropriate for reconstruction. Many patients can have reconstruction immediately after the breast is removed. This has the advantage of the patient never having to see themselves without one or both breasts.

But there are good reasons to wait, as well. Many patients simply can’t deal with the thought of more complicated surgery beyond losing a breast. Other times health issues may dictate a delay before reconstruction. Or there still may be other treatments required such as more radiation or chemotherapy that preclude surgery at this time.

Methods

  • Skin expansion

The most common technique used for reconstruction combines skin expansion and the subsequent insertion of an implant. Following mastectomy, your Elite surgeon will insert a balloon expander beneath your skin and chest muscle. Through a tiny valve he then periodically injects a salt-water solution into the expander to gently stretch the skin over the breast area. When the skin has stretched enough, a second procedure will remove the expander and replace it with an implant. In some cases, the expander can function as that implant. In a subsequent procedure, we will reconstruct the areola and nipple.

Some patients don’t require tissue expansion to make room for an implant. In these cases, the implant can be inserted after mastectomy.

  • Flap reconstruction

In lieu of implant insertion, some patients opt to have a breast constructed using a skin flap taken from another area on the body, usually the back, abdomen, or buttocks.

In one method, the tissue remains attached to its original site, retaining its blood supply. The flap, consisting of the skin, fat, and muscle with its blood supply, is tunneled beneath the skin to the chest, either creating the pocket for an implant or creating the breast mound itself.

Another flap technique takes tissue surgically from the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks and transplants it to the chest. Blood vessels are reconnected to the new area.

Breast reconstruction isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding. If you have any questions for our surgeons concerning these procedures, please call us and set up a consultation, (616) 459-1907.

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