For most mastectomy patients, breast reconstruction dramatically improves their appearance and quality of life. The latest medical techniques and equipment make it possible for surgeons to create a breast similar in form and appearance to that of a natural breast.
The Breast Reconstruction Procedure
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure to restore the appearance of a breast for women who have undergone a mastectomy for breast cancer. The surgery rebuilds the breast contour, the nipple and areola.
Reconstruction is possible immediately following mastectomy, so the patient awakes with a reconstructed breast already in place. A number of techniques are available to assist reconstruction:
Reconstruction has no known effect on the recurrence of disease in the breast, and it does not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatment, should the cancer recur.
Periodic mammograms are often recommended on both the reconstructed and the remaining normal breast.
Planning The Surgery
The surgery involves 3 stages:
Stage1: Insertion of Breast Expander
The surgeon will place an expander under the skin and muscle to help stretch the tissue. This makes room for the breast implant to be inserted. This procedure is usually done under General anaesthesia or Local anaesthesia and some sedation (twilight sleep). Surgery time is 1 hour.
Stage 2: Insertion of Breast implant
This generally occurs 8-12 weeks after, and involves replacing the expander with a proper breast implant. This procedure can be done under General anaesthesia or local + sedation. Surgery time is 1 hour.
Stage 3: Nipple & Areola Reconstruction
This is the final stage of Breast reconstruction and usually occurs 4-6 weeks after placement of the breast implant. It is done in the office under local anaesthesia only. Surgery Time: 30min.
Candidates For Breast Reconstruction
Most mastectomy patients are medically appropriate for reconstruction. The best candidates are those whose cancer has been completely eradicated through mastectomy, chemotherapy or radiation.
Risk factors are fortunately minimal. They include bleeding, fluid collection, excessive scar tissue, the need for a second operation. Breast implants ultimately require replacement