Breast cancer can be a devastating diagnosis. Although there are many new treatments available, the fear of disfigurement is still part of this devastation. Breast reconstruction may be able to restore the appearance and self-confidence of a woman undergoing a mastectomy for breast cancer.
Women are now often diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age. Some women may also choose to have a mastectomy because of a strong family of breast cancer or genetic predisposition.
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How Is The Procedure Performed?
Newer mastectomy techniques include lumpectomy, skin sparing mastectomy and nipple sparing mastectomy. Your general surgeon will choose the best treatment for you. Most women undergoing any of these mastectomy procedures, including lumpectomies are candidates for breast reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction may be performed at the time of the original mastectomy. This is called an immediate reconstruction. Although it takes more steps to complete the reconstruction, the process has already started by the time you wake up from the anesthesia. Delayed reconstructions may be performed at any time after the mastectomy. The results of the immediate and delayed reconstruction are usually similar. Some women choose the delayed reconstruction if they are uncertain about reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy. Sometimes the surgeon or oncologist will ask you to wait until the final results from the mastectomy are available.
The breast can be reconstructed using your own tissues or implants. Each has advantages and disadvantages. During the consultation with Dr. Samimi, he will go over all the choices and decide with you on the best option. Prior to placement of the permanent implants, tissue expanders are inserted. These tissue expanders are gradually filled over the next weeks until the desired breast fullness has been achieved. The expanders are filled with saline or saltwater by inserting a small needle through the skin. In the following surgery, the expanders are replaced with the permanent implants. Both silicone and saline implants can be used.
If you have received radiation as part of your breast cancer treatment, Dr. Samimi may suggest a latissimus dorsi flap. This flaps moves skin and muscle from the back and is used in addition to an implant to reconstruct the breast.