Breast Reconstruction //
Breast Reconstruction most commonly occurs after one or both breast have been removed (mastectomy) because of breast cancer or a strong family history of breast cancer. Other reasons for breast reconstruction include lumpectomy and radiation, congenital absence or hypoplasia of breast tissue, or asymmetry. Reconstruction of the breast can be performed using implants, your body’s natural tissue (autologus reconstruction), or a combination of both. Regardless of the operation performed, the goal remains to reestablish the symmetry and natural form of the breast. Breast reconstruction is not limited to the period immediately after the mastectomy and may be performed months to years after the initial operation. While removing the breast frequently requires only a single stage, the process of breast reconstruction may require up to three to stages. Please see the stages below for more information.
Stage I: Creation of the Breast
The first operation focuses on creating the initial breast shape. This may be performed by transferring tissue from your abdomen (TRAM Flap) or back (Latissimus Flap), using tissue expanders to help create the necessary volume for a permanent implant, or a combination of both of these methods. Together, both you and Dr. Smith will determine which operation will provide you with the best reconstructive option to obtain the optimal result. To learn more about the different breast reconstructive options available, please follow the links below. Tissue Expander Reconstruction TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction Latissimus Dorsi Flap Breast Reconstruction
Stage II: Implant Exchange/Obtaining Symmetry
Regardless of the operation performed, most women will require a second operation to obtain symmetry between their breasts. If breast reconstruction was performed using tissue expansion, the second stage operation allows for exchange of the tissue expander for a more permanent silicone or saline breast implant. Patients who had unilateral (one-sided) breast reconstruction will often require a surgical procedure to the unaffected breast to obtain symmetry. These surgical procedures may include a reduction mammaplasty (breast reduction), mastopexy (breast lift), or augmentation mammoplasty (breast enlargement). This second stage is often performed as an outpatient, two to three months after the initial operation.
Stage III: Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
Nipple and areola reconstruction occurs after the final shape of one or both breasts has been obtained. The nipple is frequently reconstructed from tissue that is already present on the breast itself. No additional tissue from another part of the body is required. Creation of the nipple is often performed as a minor procedure in Dr. Smith’s office several months after the initial operation. The final step of the breast reconstruction process is to tattoo a color around the reconstructed nipple to create an areola. This completes the breast reconstructive process. The entire breast reconstruction process can take 6 months to a year to complete. The benefit is the final result, which is a natural and durable breast reconstruction that reestablishes symmetry and form without the need for wearing external breast prosthesis.
For more information about the reconstructive process please contact Dr. Smith’s office by telephone, email, or complete the Questionnaire form on the website.