Breast reconstruction is a huge decision. Women will consider reconstruction of their breasts for the following reasons:
• To remain symmetrical
• Eliminate the need for a prosthetic breast
• Regain breast shape
• Improve body image
When Is Breast Reconstruction Performed?
Typically the procedure is done straight after a mastectomy or a few months later. Immediate reconstruction can be done during or very soon after the procedure. Breast reconstruction is for women who don’t need to undergo chemotherapy. The procedure tends to offer better results as the chest tissue is not damaged. Rather, a tissue expander is used which stretches the skin in order to get it read for the implant.
Which is the Best Procedure?
Breast reconstruction is either completed with tissue flap or implant procedures.
The implants are sacs filled with silicone, gel or saline and are used to rebuild the size and shape of the breast. They will need to be replaced every 10-15 years and do risk the chance of interfering with mammograms.
Tissue flap procedures use the body tissue as well as muscle from other parts of the body to reconstruct the breast. Common sites for tissue flaps include the upper back and abdomen and sometimes the buttocks and thighs. The flaps behave the same as other tissue and will shrink or expand as weight fluctuated.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
Finally, this step will be performed around 3 – 4 months after the initial breast reconstruction. During the procedure, tiny amounts of skin and tissue will be removed from the reconstructed breast and then placed in the nipple site and shaped. The areola is create with skin grafts from either the abdomen or groin. It can also be tattooed around the nipple.
Who is Breast Reconstruction For?
Breast reconstruction is ideal for breast cancer survivors who have had a mastectomy and wish to retain the shape and size of their chests. It has been found that women who undergo the procedure enjoy considerable benefits as short as three weeks after the surgery, from improvements in sexual wellbeing to their social and psychological wellbeing.
After the Procedure
After breast reconstruction you may feel sore and tired for about 2 weeks. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to control the discomfort. Depending on which type of surgery you have, you can leave hospital between 1 to 6 days afterwards and may be discharged with a drain in place that removed excess fluid from the operation site. Typically, the fluid will drain into a small ball which you will be taught to empty before going home. Be sure to follow all instructions on drain and wound care and ask if you will require support garments to wear.