Breast Reconstruction Following Mastectomy
July 20, 2015
Breast reconstruction is an elective procedure that is typically performed after a full, partial or double mastectomy. While it is not medically necessary for a woman to receive this surgery, it can have a major impact on the patient’s self-confidence and emotional recovery after treatment for breast cancer.
Immediate Reconstruction and Delayed Reconstruction
Immediate breast reconstruction is performed during the actual mastectomy procedure. This limits the number of future surgeries that must be performed as well as the cumulative recovery period. Immediate reconstruction is often believed to have the best cosmetic and psychological benefits for the patient. Unfortunately, not all people are candidates for immediate procedures.
The patient’s health and long-term prognosis as well as the nature of the mastectomy are all factors that will be reviewed when determining whether or not corrective procedures should be immediate or delayed. When immediate breast reconstruction is not an option, women can schedule delayed procedures. These are performed several months or years after the mastectomy and often occur in several stages.
Different Options in Breast Reconstruction
There are three primary types of breast reconstruction that surgeons can perform. This allows medical teams to accommodate a greater range of patient needs, given that not all patients are ideal candidates for all reconstruction options. You and Dr. Pryor can discuss your health and circumstances to determine which reconstructive procedure is best for you.
The first reconstructive procedure involves the use of an implant or tissue expander. Implants can recreate the natural look of full, healthy breasts with long-term benefits. The breast can also be reconstructed through the use of the patient’s own tissues, typically taken from the thighs or buttocks. The final option entails the combined use of a tissue expander and the patient’s own tissues, which are taken from the latissimus muscle at the back.
What the Reconstruction Process Entails
The duration of reconstructive procedures can vary greatly depending upon future cancer treatments and the number of surgeries that must be performed. When no additional cancer treatments are deemed necessary, these efforts usually take between six months and one year, irrespective of the reconstructive method that is used. Some patients may decide against reconstructive procedures for recreating the areola and nipple, while other patients could require additional procedures to create symmetry and balance between the new breast and the remaining, natural breast.
The first stage entails surgical efforts to create a new breast through either of the three available methods. The average recovery time is approximately three months. Recovery may be delayed by additional radiation or chemo treatments.
The next step in these process is to balance and refine the breast. This step may not be necessary for women who have received double mastectomies or who are already satisfied with the results of the first procedure. The average healing time for the second stage of reconstruction is also three months.
Finally, the areola and nipple are added to give the breast a natural and functional appearance. This is wholly elective and women have the option to skip this step if they are content with their appearances. The recovery process for this final stage is significantly shorter than that of the first two procedures and usually entails just six to eight weeks of moderate discomfort.
Contact Transformations Plastic Surgery today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Landon Pryor. We’ll work with you every step of the way to ensure you get the best results possible with only the utmost patient care.