Breast reconstruction is a plastic surgery procedure performed on women who have undergone a mastectomy (complete removal of a breast) or lumpectomy (partial removal of a breast). The procedure of breast reconstruction reconstructs the breast mound to go with the shape and size of the other breast. A nipple and the areola (dark circular area around the nipple) are also reconstructed.
A breast reconstruction surgery often involves breast implants. Reconstruction with implants can be done in two different ways. These options are immediate, or direct-to-implant, breast reconstruction and delayed reconstruction.
Immediate, or Direct-to-Implant, Breast Reconstruction
This procedure is also called one-stage reconstruction. During it, silicone gel or saline breast implants are placed in the tissues to restore volume. With this technique, the breast implants are inserted during the same procedure as the mastectomy; this can make the transition easier for the patient.
When the breast tissue has been removed as part of the mastectomy, the breast implant is placed beneath the chest muscle. A dissolvable mesh or a skin graft is made to hold the implant in place.
The procedure is also known as two-stage reconstruction. With this method, a tissue expander is inserted after the patient’s mastectomy. This prosthetic helps to set the stage for the placement of breast implants. A tissue expander is used when the plastic surgeon feels that the mastectomy skin flaps will not be able to support the implants immediately.
The tissue expander is a balloon-like sac. It slowly stretches to the required size, helping the skin stretch properly to accommodate the implant. For two to three months, a salt water solution is injected regularly into the tissue expander by using a tiny valve.
When the skin on the breast has expanded by the desired amount, another surgery is performed to remove the tissue expander and insert the breast implant. Sometimes the tissue expander can act as an implant and be allowed to remain under the skin.
Preparation for Your Breast Reconstruction Procedure
Before your breast reconstruction surgery, you will have a consultation with your plastic surgeon. During this consultation, you will discuss the aforementioned reconstruction options and will decide on the best option for you.
You will get a good idea of the realistic goals of the surgery, and you’ll be able to have an estimate of how the results will look. You will be able to look at Before and After photos and ask any questions you may have regarding every step of the procedure.
You will have to quit smoking several weeks before your breast reconstruction procedure. You may have to take or stop taking certain medicines, vitamins, or other supplements for some time before and after the surgery. There may also be some restrictions on eating and drinking.
Feeling tired and sore for a week or two following breast reconstruction is quite common. It usually takes patients up to six weeks to fully return to their normal activities. Patients must deal with a degree of bruising and swelling in the area temporarily. During your consultation, your plastic surgeon will tell you more about the proper measures to take for a speedy and safe recovery.
Set Up a Breast Reconstruction Consultation
Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. John Zannis is an excellent choice for breast reconstruction surgery. To find out more, contact our office and arrange an appointment for a consultation.