Restoring Your Figure Following Mastectomy
Breast cancer can be traumatic, particularly if it requires a mastectomy, or removal of a breast. By using your own body tissue or implants, the surgeons at Plastic Surgery Associates can reconstruct a breast that is close in form and appearance to your natural breast.
When is the Right Time for Breast Reconstruction?
In some cases, breast reconstruction may be possible immediately following your mastectomy. This often yields a better result and may save an additional operation. The procedure has no known effect on the cancer’s recurrence. It also does not usually interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatment if you do have a recurrence of your cancer.
What Does Breast Reconstruction Involve?
Breast reconstruction usually requires more than one operation. The first is performed in a hospital, and the follow-up is often done on an outpatient basis.
There are two main types of breast reconstruction operations:
- Skin expansion
Your surgeon inserts a tissue expander beneath your skin and chest muscle following your mastectomy. This is injected with sterile saline water over the next few weeks or months to stretch the skin. The expander is replaced with a more permanent implant when the skin is sufficiently stretched. The nipple and areola (the dark skin around your nipple) are reconstructed in a future procedure.
- Flap reconstruction
A flap consisting of fat, muscle, and skin is taken from your back or abdomen and rotated into the chest. This may be done with or without an implant. If the flap is large enough, it can serve as the breast mound. This procedure is more complex than skin expansion, but the results may be more natural looking.
What Should I Expect After Breast Reconstruction?
You should be released from the hospital in two to five days, depending on the extent of your surgery. It may take you up to six weeks to recover fully if you have a combined mastectomy and reconstruction.
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