Our surgeons provide a variety of breast reconstruction options to correct deformities secondary to trauma and infection, as well as a lumpectomy (partial removal of breast tissue) and mastectomy as a result of breast cancer. This surgery is tailored to each woman’s particular case and uses implants and existing tissue to shape and contour symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing breasts.
Interested in breast reconstruction?
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When Should Breast Reconstruction Be Considered?
The timing of your surgery is an important consideration. You have the option of having your breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy or waiting until after you have healed. In some cases, the surgery must be postponed for radiation or chemotherapy after the mastectomy. If you have already completed one of these therapies or are not scheduled to have them, you can choose to have the reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy. Most women in this situation prefer immediate reconstruction so they can heal from both surgeries at the same time and not have to undergo another surgical procedure months or years down the road. Also, many women do not want to live without breasts for any longer than necessary. Some women feel they can heal emotionally as well as physically from their breast cancer more completely when they have their reconstruction completed at the time of mastectomy.
However, other women choose to delay the surgery due to personal preference or until they know they are completely in remission. There is no time limit regarding breast reconstruction. It can be completed months or years after a mastectomy and should never be rushed. Breast reconstruction is an emotional process, and patients should only pursue treatment when they are completely ready.
Before your procedure, we will examine you and consult with both you and your oncologist to devise a surgical plan that is most advantageous for you.
What Can Breast Reconstruction Correct?
Not all breast reconstructions recommended due to breast cancer, though that makes up most of the surgeries we perform. There are other reasons why women choose to have breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction can:
- Correct deformities due to trauma or severe infection
- Correct congenital or developmental deformities
- Reconstruct tissue that was removed during a lumpectomy or biopsy
During the procedure, the breasts are better matched regarding size, shape, and position. Implants are often used in reconstruction, and the nipples and areolas may need to be raised or lowered to provide a symmetrical result. Your surgeon will thoroughly consult with you before your surgery to determine if you want to match the size and shape of your breasts in the cases of mastectomy or if you want to choose a smaller or larger size. In the cases of reconstruction due to congenital deformities or trauma, the surgeon will determine your desired size and shape to provide the right type of implants.
Breast Reconstruction Patient Education ASPS
Are There Visible Scars after Breast Reconstruction?
No two breast reconstruction surgeries are the same. While we do our best to place incisions in discreet areas, there are usually some visible scars after this surgery. However, they do fade a great deal over time. Your surgeon will fully explain what these scars will look like, where they will be on your body, and how best to take care of your incisions after surgery to keep the scarring as minimal as possible. It’s important to keep all your follow-up appointments with your surgeon so we can monitor your incisions and ensure they are healing properly.
What Happens During Breast Reconstruction?
Patients often want to know what exactly will take place during their breast reconstruction procedure. We fully discuss pre and post-operative instructions before your surgery takes place. Instructions might include dietary restrictions before your surgery, and you may need to discontinue certain medications and refrain from smoking. We will make sure all your questions are answered and that you fully understand what will take place during your procedure.
Breast reconstruction is an inpatient procedure that requires a short hospital stay. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia with a certified anesthesiologist present to monitor you throughout the surgery. The procedure usually takes one to three hours depending on the individual case. You will need to have someone take care of you when you are released from the hospital as you will be advised to keep your activity to a minimum. Any straining, lifting or heavy activity will impede the healing process and could cause significant damage to your health. We ensure that you have put the necessary plans in place before your reconstruction surgery so that your recovery is as smooth as possible.
Which Reconstructive Surgery is Right For You?
One of our surgeons discusses the differences between breast reconstruction options in the video below.
The most common breast reconstruction technique requires placement of a tissue expander to stretch the skin, so that there is enough to cover an implant properly. This process requires four to six months, during which time we gradually fill the expander during weekly office visits. Once the adequate size and space has been achieved, we allow two to three months for the tissues to stabilize before exchanging the expander for implants. The decision about the size and type of implant will be made with you at that time.
There are a variety of flap techniques utilized, depending on which one will provide you with the best result.
Latissimus dorsi flap
In this technique, muscle, fat, and skin are taken from the back and placed over an expander at the chest. This added tissue can markedly improve the outcome versus tissue expanders or implants alone, especially if the patient has undergone radiation.
In this case, the skin and fatty tissue from the abdomen, typically removed during an abdominoplasty, are used to reconstruct one or both breasts. In some instances, a small segment of muscle from the abdomen is used to help reconstruct the breast area. Although the abdomen is flatter after this procedure, the result is not quite the same as a tummy tuck.
A DIEP flap
This technique is similar to a TRAM flap, except that no muscle is used to rebuild the breast; it is then commonly referred to as a muscle-sparing procedure. Using a specialize microsurgery technique, fat, skin, and vessels from the lower belly area help rebuild the breasts. Because no muscle is affected, most patients recover quickly and have a lower risk of minimized abdominal strength.
There are benefits and considerations to be taken into account with every approach to breast reconstruction, and thoroughly review these with you to help set expectations and allow you to feel confident. This requires adequate fullness of the abdominal area.
What Can You Expect After Breast Reconstruction?
Just as each breast reconstruction surgery is individualized, recovery time and experience also varies from patient to patient. However, you can expect to experience some discomfort, inflammation, and bruising post-surgery. We will provide you with a prescription for pain medication, as well as detailed after-care instructions. Follow-up appointments are also scheduled to check the healing progress.
Bandages will be placed after your surgery, and you will be given a surgical bra to wear for weeks. Your breasts will require some time – perhaps months – after your surgery to settle into their final shape. You can expect to be off from work for at least two weeks and perhaps longer depending on your health and the requirements of your occupation.
Many patients opt for nipple reconstruction which can be completed as a relatively simple outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. We now also have a professional partnership with Kevin Dixon of Cherry Street Ink who specializes in nipple tattooing. Nipple tattooing can make reconstructed breasts look much more natural. We are excited by the results our patients have experienced with nipple tattooing and feel it makes the entire process of breast reconstruction at our facility complete.
Survivors Getting Inked After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Learn more about nipple tattooing after reconstruction. We are excited to have Kevin Dixon, tattoo artist at Cherry Street Ink, in our area as a resource for our patients. Our patients who have chosen Kevin for nipple tattooing have had excellent results and have shared how satisfied they are with their experience and their outcome.
484 Cherry Street, Macon GA 31201
Contact our office today for a consultation to discuss your candidacy for breast reconstruction surgery.