Breast reconstruction surgery makes it possible for women to restore natural-looking breasts after a mastectomy. There are several types of reconstructive surgery available, and the reconstruction process sometimes means more than one operation. You may have a choice between having breast reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or at a later time (delayed reconstruction).
At NYBG plastic surgery, most patients receive immediate reconstruction. Immediate breast reconstruction is done, or at least started, at the same time as the mastectomy. The benefit of this approach is that the breast skin is often preserved, which can produce better-looking results, and provide an initial shape of the breast. Of note, some women will require several stages to restore natural-looking breasts after a mastectomy.
All women are usually a candidate for breast reconstruction; however, the type breast reconstruction surgery depends upon several factors:
- - Your overall health (including issues that might affect your healing, such as smoking, diabetes, circulation problems or certain health conditions)
- - The size and location of your breast cancer
- - Your breast size and shape
- - The extent of your breast cancer surgery
- - Whether you will need treatments (chemotherapy or radiation) for your cancer
- - The availability of natural tissue that can be harvested to use in flap reconstruction
- - Whether you want reconstructive surgery on one or both breasts
It is sometimes not possible for a woman to have immediate reconstruction; a discussion with your plastic surgeon, who will work together with your cancer surgeon, will reveal which breast reconstruction surgery technique will be the best option for you.
Types of Breast Reconstruction
There are several different techniques employed in surgical breast reconstruction. At NYBG Plastic Surgery, we perform two main techniques for reconstructing breasts:
Autologous reconstruction: This technique uses your own natural tissue from the abdomen or back to rebuild the breast shape. In flap reconstruction, specific body tissues, including skin, fat, blood vessels, and muscle are removed from the tummy or back area and then used to rebuild the breast. Autologous reconstruction typically requires a longer operation and longer recovery because of two surgical sites.
Implant reconstruction: This technique requires a single-stage or two-stage reconstruction that involves inserting an implant filled with salt water (saline), silicone gel, or a combination. We supplement implant reconstruction with acellular dermal matrix: a durable, natural mesh created from the collagen in human skin to provide structure and support for your new breast. Implant reconstruction is less complex, with less downtime, and involves the placement of implants to restore the breast tissue lost in the mastectomy.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction: Nipple and areola reconstruction are usually the final phase of breast reconstruction. This is a separate surgery done to make the reconstructed breast look more like the original breast. It can be done as an outpatient procedure. It’s usually done after the new breast has had time to heal (about 3 to 4 months after surgery).
Fat Grafting: Fat grafting for breast reconstruction involves liposuction of various sites and transferring that tissue to the reconstructed breast. Fat grafting may supplement implant reconstruction or autologous reconstruction to restore the natural contour of the breast. It can be done as an outpatient procedure. It’s usually done after the new breast has had time to heal (about 3 to 4 months after surgery).