At The Plastic Surgery Group in Albany, breast reconstruction surgery can be performed either immediately following the mastectomy or sometime later. Typically women choose immediate breast reconstruction to reduce the emotional impact of having a breast removed. In certain cases, a woman may want to delay breast reconstruction surgery until she has come to terms with her breast cancer diagnosis and has had the time to discuss all of her options with both her surgeon and plastic surgeon.
There have been many new advancements and reconstructive techniques developed in the area of breast reconstruction, and your plastic surgeon will explain these to you in detail during your consultation. Your surgeon will help you decide which approach is the most beneficial for your goals and will work closely with your other doctors to determine the optimum course of action. Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon any questions and discuss any concerns you may have during your frank and open conversation. It is very important to have a comfortable understanding of this procedure. The different methods of breast reconstruction include:
TISSUE EXPANSION WITH AN IMPLANT
This is a very common type of breast reconstruction surgery that involves the placement of an expander under the skin and chest muscle. The expander is injected multiple times with a saline solution over a period of weeks or months to stretch the skin. After the skin is stretched and the pocket created, the expander is removed and replaced with a breast implant, much like with breast augmentation. This is done as a brief outpatient procedure with minimal recovery time. In the event that a woman's tissue does not need to be expanded, an implant is placed with no need for the saline-solution expander.
Flap reconstruction is a method that uses tissue from the back, abdomen, or buttocks to form the new breast. In some cases, this tissue and attached blood vessels are moved through the body to the breast area. In other cases, the tissue is removed and then relocated to the breast area.
Your plastic surgeon will discuss each of these different approaches with you during your pre-surgery consultation.
Regardless of whether you have tissue expansion or flap reconstruction, you will likely need to undergo more than one surgery to obtain optimal results. Generally, the first surgery is the most complex with subsequent surgeries to replace the saline expander, place a silicone or saline breast implant, or recreate the nipple and areola. Your plastic surgeon will discuss all of this with you in detail prior to your surgery.
Federal law requires medical insurance to cover breast reconstruction in most cases. Our staff will help you determine your coverage and assist you in completing the necessary paperwork. Our goal is to support you and reduce your stress as much as possible at this difficult time.
Recovery after breast reconstruction depends on whether you have implant or flap reconstruction. While everyone heals at her own rate, you can expect your recovery process to generally proceed as follows:
FIRST FEW DAYS
In most cases, breast reconstruction patients stay overnight in the hospital and return home the following day. Often, a drainage tube is used to eliminate excess fluids from the operative area immediately after the surgery.
1 TO 2 WEEKS
It's normal to feel tired and sore for 1 to 2 weeks following your surgery. Your plastic surgeon can prescribe medication that will help you feel more comfortable. Stitches are usually removed within a week.
In general, most women feel back to normal about 6 weeks after breast reconstruction surgery. It's important to be gentle with yourself during this recuperative period. Avoid lifting, sports, and sex for up to 6 weeks following your surgery.
Also, it will take some time for scars to begin to fade. Eventually, they will become much less noticeable. Your plastic surgeon will make every effort to minimize the scarring during the surgery.
All surgery comes with some risks, including the development of an infection around the surgical area or an adverse reaction to anesthesia. If these rare situations occur, they can be treated by medications prescribed by your plastic surgeon. One uncommon complication after breast reconstruction surgery is the development of capsular contracture, which causes the scar tissue around the implant to tighten and put pressure on the implant. The risk has diminished with newer implant technology and stretching exercises. We refer women to a physical therapist who specializes in breast cancer patients.
The initial breast reconstruction surgery is usually performed using a general anesthetic. You will be completely asleep and comfortable during the procedure. Often, follow-up surgeries can be performed using a local anesthetic or sedative combination to ensure your comfort.
With flap reconstruction, the reconstructed breast is your own living tissue, feels very natural, and usually lasts a lifetime.
Implant reconstruction provides natural-looking results and minimal scarring, especially if you have enough skin and muscle left after mastectomy to cover the implant. Other advantages include a shorter surgery and quicker recovery period.
After flap reconstruction, you will have 2 surgical sites: 1 at the reconstructed breast and 1 at the donor site. This technique is more complex because the surgeon must reattach living tissue to the site and ensure that it has a viable blood supply.
The surgeon uses local tissue to create the breast bud. The darker areola can be recreated through micropigmentation using cosmetic tattooing if necessary. The procedure is available at our medical spa.
Mastectomy and breast reconstruction cause pain, weakness, and stiffness of the arm and shoulder on the affected side. You will need to perform specific exercises as directed by your surgeon to regain strength and range of motion and to prevent scar tissue from forming in your armpit and shoulder.
You may gain some feeling in your restored breast, but it will not be as sensitive as a natural one.
The Plastic Surgery Group
455 Patroon Creek Boulevard, Suite 101
Albany, NY 12206
Hours of Operation
Phone (518) 438-0505
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