BEGIN HEALING WITH BREAST RECONSTRUCTION

WHAT IS BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?

For women who have undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer, breast reconstruction surgery is a way to help them rebuild their breasts and regain their self-confidence as a woman. It is typically performed on women who have recently had a mastectomy and have a low-level risk of recurrence.

TYPES OF BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY

  • TISSUE EXPANSION – During this procedure, a balloon expander is placed underneath the chest muscle. The balloon is slowly injected with the salt-water solution that expands the balloon and stretches the skin. This expansion occurs over for several weeks or months. Once the area is adequately stretched, the balloon expander is replaced with a permanent saline or silicone implant, though sometimes the balloon expander is left as the final implant. The nipple and areola are then reconstructed. This procedure has the fastest recovery time but it requires several office visits for expansion, meaning it could be weeks until a proper breast mound forms.
  • TRAM FLAP AND LATISSIMUS FLAP RECONSTRUCTION – Flap breast reconstruction surgeries use either the soft tissue from the lower abdomen (TRAM Flap) or soft tissue from the back (Latissimus Flap) to create a skin tissue flap to place underneath the chest skin to create space for an implant. Occasionally the flap of tissue (which consists of skin, muscle, and fat) forms a breast mound, making an implant unnecessary. This surgery has a longer recovery time and causes discomfort in areas other than the breast, however, a proper breast mound is seen immediately after surgery.
  • BRAVA – This procedure is done immediately after mastectomy and involves the use of a device called BRAVA. The device must be worn at home for about 6 hours a day for a week. It typically requires extra outpatient fat grafting sessions for women to reach their desired size and results in more natural breasts that are created from your own tissue.

Most of these surgeries require a series of periodic procedures as well as follow-up surgeries. At the Greenwich Center for Plastic Surgery, Dr. Raskin can help determine which breast reconstruction option is best for you.

POST-OP AND RECOVERY

After your breast reconstruction procedure, small drainage tubes may need to be inserted into each breast. Patients are typically released from the hospital after about two to five days. Follow-up surgeries are often necessary for nipple or areola reconstruction, touch-ups, and to ensure symmetry. Patients are urged to avoid strenuous activity for three to six weeks after surgery. Over time some feeling will return to your breasts and the scarring is permanent but will fade over time.

RISKS OF BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY

Like all surgical procedures, breast reconstruction surgeries come with potential risks. These risks include excessive bleeding, excessive scar tissue, adverse reaction to anesthesia, and infection. In cases of infection, a breast implant will need to be removed until the infection clears. The most common issue from breast reconstruction surgery is capsular contracture, which happens when the scar around the implant begins to tighten, causing the breast to feel hard. This surgery has no known effect on breast cancer recurrence, and it does not tend to interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatment should cancer recur.

POST-OP AND RECOVERY

After your breast reconstruction, small drainage tubes may need to be inserted into each breast. The surgical dressing will be removed within a few days and sutures should dissolve on their own in about a week. Swelling typically last for about three to five weeks, or for three to five months if implants were placed under the chest muscle. During the first two weeks after your procedure, you may experience a burning sensation in your nipples. Patients usually can return to work after a few days but are encouraged to avoid any strenuous activity for about two to three weeks. Scarring will occur with breast augmentation, but it will fade over time.

RISKS OF BREAST RECONSTRUCTION

Like all surgical procedures, breast augmentation comes with potential risks. These risks include excessive bleeding, adverse reaction to anesthesia, infection, or oversensitive, undersensitive, or numb nipples. The most common issue from breast reconstruction surgery is capsular contracture, which happens when the scar around the implant begins to tighten, causing the breast to feel hard. There is a chance that the implant will break, which will require a second operation to replace the leaking implant. There is no evidence connecting breast implants with cancer, arthritis-like conditions, or immune system diseases. Breast implants may affect the way a mammography is performed but train radiologists can perform a special displacement technique to perform an accurate mammogram.