For many women facing breast cancer, reconstruction of the breasts after mastectomy is an integral part of the healing process. Breast reconstruction often allows women cancer survivors to maintain their sense of femininity and normalcy throughout the physically and emotionally challenging journey of breast cancer treatment.
As female surgeons, we at Duet Plastic Surgery strongly encourage women who will be undergoing, or who have already undergone, mastectomies to consider breast reconstruction as an option.
Drs. Lim and Weintraub are both extensively trained in all methods of breast reconstruction, ranging from tissue expanders and breast implants to microvascular free-tissue flaps. Their backgrounds, aesthetic eye, as well as their personal interest in women's health make Dr. Lim and Dr. Weintraub a safe and comfortable choice for many breast cancer patients.
Breast reconstruction involves many choices and many steps. Each patient is unique, and each patient's path through cancer treatment and reconstruction will vary based on her individual situation. Below we describe some general information regarding breast reconstructive procedures.
One option for breast reconstruction after mastectomy is the use of tissue expanders/breast implants. Depending on your body habitus, the appearance of the other breast, and the type of cancer treatment, this type of reconstruction is performed in a series of stages: surgical placement of the tissue expander, expansion, followed by surgical exchange for the permanent breast implant.
The first part of the procedure, the placement of the tissue expander, is performed either immediately following the mastectomy or is done in a delayed fashion, months or even years after the mastectomy. With this procedure, a temporary balloon-like implant is positioned under the pectoralis muscle and remaining breast skin.
In the weeks that follow, the implant is slowly filled such that the muscle and skin gradually expand to look like the original breast. Once the tissue is adequately stretched, the temporary expander is exchanged for a permanent implant, which looks and feels more like a normal breast.
The final step of this process is reconstructing the nipple, either using local tissue or your own tissue from another location.
Tissue Flap Reconstruction
In certain instances, commonly seen after radiation therapy, a woman may need more tissue to reconstruct her breast after cancer treatment.
In these situations, tissue is moved from one part of the body to the breast area to reconstruct a breast mound. A breast implant may also be utilized.