Reconstruction of a breast is a very personal choice and each person’s surgery is based on individual circumstances. Our surgeons can create a breast that matches a natural breast very closely in form and appearance thanks to advances in medical techniques and devices. We want you to be comfortable with the procedure and understand what will take place before making your decision.
Breast reconstruction involves creating a natural-looking breast using either implants or a person’s own tissue. Frequently, reconstruction is possible immediately following breast removal, also known as a mastectomy. There are many options based on your personal situation. Your surgeon may recommend breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy, or may advise waiting for a time period after your breast removal surgery.
The main reason for a breast reconstruction is to restore the appearance of a breast after removal due to cancer or other disease.
We want you to be informed before making your choices. Our caring team will take the time to listen to your needs and fully explain everything. We will develop a personal plan customized for your needs. You can feel confident in our excellent care.
Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy involves a number of steps over a period of time. We want to make sure you understand the options and will explain:
- Timing of breast reconstruction
- Type of implant
- Flap reconstruction
- Skin expansion
- Follow-up procedures
Timing of breast reconstruction
An immediate reconstruction of your breast may be recommended if your cancer, as best can be determined, has been eliminated by mastectomy. Many mastectomy patients are medically appropriate for this. There are also reasons though to advise waiting for reconstruction. Reasons for waiting may include the number of options to decide upon, the reconstruction may be a more complicated procedure depending on your situation or there may be other health conditions that play a part in the decision. We will discuss with you the best timing for your personal condition.
Type of implant
If your surgeon recommends an implant, there are two different types. The breast implant will be a silicone shell filled either with silicone gel or a saline (salt and water) solution.
Instead of an implant, a flap reconstruction procedure may be more appropriate for you. This involves creating a skin flap from tissue taken from other parts of your body. Your surgeon will discuss all available options and recommend what is best based on your body and personal situation.
Some women will require a skin expansion procedure prior to placing an implant, and some will not. If you require a skin expansion, your surgeon will place a balloon expander beneath your skin and chest muscle. This balloon will gradually be injected with a salt-water solution over several weeks or months to stretch the skin over the breast area. Some expanders will be left in place as your implant, others will be removed and replaced with a more permanent implant.
Many times follow-up procedures such as replacing a tissue expander with an implant or reconstructing the nipple and the areola are needed. You may also choose to have additional surgery to match your natural breast to the reconstructed breast. A complete personalized plan will be discussed with you before your initial breast removal surgery begins.
Each breast reconstruction surgery is based on an individual’s body and goals. We would be happy to schedule a consultation to answer any questions you may have and provide our recommendation on what we think is best for your situation. You will be well taken care of at HealthPartners Plastic Surgery. We are confident you will be pleased with the results.