What is Breast Reconstruction?
If you are facing the loss of a breast due to cancer or other disease, you may be given the option of breast reconstruction. The decision to have breast reconstruction is an important and personal one. It requires a thorough understanding of all the options available to you. While there are several ways to perform breast reconstruction, your surgeon will ultimately decide which method is best for you based on your health, medical condition and personal desires.
Breast reconstruction may help you to feel better about your body: you may feel more "normal," "whole," and feminine. It may also help you to be able to wear more types of clothes with convenience and comfort.
In breast reconstruction, the breast tissue is removed and the goal is to "reconstruct" a new breast. Some irregularities on the implant under the surface of the skin will be more noticeable in a reconstructed breast because there is no longer breast tissue there.
Who is a good candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Candidates must be in good health, have no active diseases or serious, pre-existing medical conditions, and must have realistic expectations of the outcome of the surgery. Breast reconstruction typically requires a few stages and depending on which kind of breast reconstruction you choose, you may need up to six months or a year to complete the reconstruction process and fully return to your normal life.
If you are thinking about breast reconstruction and are interested in breastfeeding your children, you should know that you cannot breastfeed from a reconstructed breast. The parts of the breast that deliver milk are the most likely parts to develop cancer and are therefore removed during the mastectomy.
How is this procedure performed?
The breast reconstruction process may begin at the time of your mastectomy (immediate) or weeks to years afterwards (delayed). The type of breast reconstruction procedure offered to you depends on your medical situation, your breast shape and size, your general health and lifestyle, and your goals. Every woman’s situation is unique.
There are different types of breast reconstruction that are commonly performed:
- A tissue expander, followed by a breast implant, either silicone gel or saline filled
- Your own tissues (referred to as a flap)
- Or a combination of both.
Consult with your plastic surgeon to determine the best option for your breast reconstruction based on your goals.