Breast reconstruction is a plastic surgery to rebuild either one breast or both breasts, typically following a partial or full mastectomy. The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to restore the breasts to as close to their original form as possible.
In some cases, this includes the restoration of the areola as well. Lumpectomy patients can also benefit from this procedure, as it is both physically and emotionally healing for those who have suffered even a partial loss of the breast from cancer or other medical conditions.
Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy Overview
Breast reconstruction can be performed as a one-stage procedure, meaning at the same time as the mastectomy. If a patient anticipates additional cancer procedures and/or treatments, then she can opt for the two-stage delayed reconstruction after full recovery has taken place.
The two-stage reconstruction process requires the surgeon to implant a skin tissue expander behind the chest muscle wall. Over a 4- to 6-month time period, the surgeon will inject a solution into the expander to stretch the skin in preparation for the new breast implant. In some cases, the expanders act as the final implant.
Procedural times vary according to individual medical background, but typically last between two to three hours. The common anesthesia options are general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. There are several breast reconstruction options available, including saline implants, silicone implants, autologous tissue, or a combination of implant/skin tissue.
There are also many flap technique procedures that the surgeon can use for transferring autologous tissue, for example from the stomach or thighs to the breast. Your doctor will review your medical history along with your ideal expectations to achieve customized results. In addition to your mastectomy procedure, you will also have a breast lift appearance.
Following surgery, hospital bandages will be applied to the incisions. A support bra or bandage will help support the new breasts and help control swelling. A temporary drainage tube may be inserted at the surgery site to drain any excess fluids. You will spend approximately three hours in the recovery room before being transferred to a hospital room.
You may experience moderate discomfort, but your doctor will prescribe pain medications as needed. Nurses will aid you in slow movement, such as standing and sitting for the first 24 hours. The average hospital stay is anywhere between two and six days. The recovery period at home will last for several weeks. It is important to rest and refrain from any vigorous activity until the incisions have properly healed.
Patients Most Frequently Ask Questions
What is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast Reconstruction is a surgical procedure designed to restore the appearance of the chest, after a partial or full breast has been removed. The procedure will involve either autologous tissue or a breast implant to provide shape and volume. The nipple and areola can be reconstructed during this procedure, as well.
Must a Breast Reconstruction be performed immediately after a Mastectomy?
Breast Reconstruction can be successfully performed on women just completing their Mastectomy, as well as those who had their Mastectomy in years past (delayed Reconstruction).
How is a Breast Reconstruction performed?
Dr. Kessler can perform the Breast Reconstruction in either a one or two stage procedure. The one-stage procedure means the reconstruction of breast tissue is performed at the same time as the Mastectomy.
A two-stage procedure requires the surgeon to first place a tissue expander behind the chest muscle wall. Slowly, over the following four to six months, the expander will stretch the tissue in preparation for the new implant. The two-stage procedure is better for patients anticipating additional cancer treatments.
Who is a good candidate for a Breast Reconstruction?
Women who have lost some or all of their breast tissue may make an excellent candidate for the Breast Reconstruction procedure. Women expecting further cancer treatments can still make a good candidate for Breast Reconstruction. Dr. Kessler will look at each woman’s unique medical history and situation to determine if they are right for a Breast Reconstruction procedure.
Where is the Breast Reconstruction procedure performed?
Dr. Kessler performs the Breast Reconstruction procedure at the nearby Star Point Surgery Center or an accredited area hospital.
What type of anesthesia is used during a Breast Revision?
A Breast Reconstruction will be performed using general anesthesia or IV sedation.
How long does a Breast Reconstruction procedure take?
The length of a Breast Reconstruction procedure will depend on the exact needs of each patient. Typically, the surgery will take between two and three hours to complete.
Will I stay in the hospital after a Breast Reconstruction?
That will depend on your reconstruction. An autologous tissue transfer, TRAM, should expect to spend between two and four nights in the hospital after a Breast Reconstruction procedure. While an implant reconstruction would not need to spend the night in the hospital.
What can I expect from the Breast Reconstruction recovery?
Moderate discomfort may be experienced after a Breast Reconstruction procedure. This will be well controlled through the use of pain medications, both during the hospital stay and at home. Patients will be sore, and experience swelling and bruising; these will diminish over several weeks. Patients should plan for several weeks of at home recovery, as the breasts take time to heal.
When can I return to work after Breast Reconstruction?
Generally, women feel well enough to return to work in three to four weeks following their Breast Reconstruction procedure. No strenuous exercise or activities should be undertaken for at least the first six weeks after surgery.
What are the risks involved with Breast Reconstruction?
Potential complications from the Breast Reconstruction procedure include hematoma, infection, asymmetry, and poor wound healing.
Can I finance my Breast Reconstruction?
Yes, Kessler Plastic Surgery is happy to offer patients the ability to finance their Breast Reconstruction through CareCredit. Applications can be submitted online, with instant approval notification. Our office also accepts cash and all major credit cards.