Breast reconstruction restores one or both breasts with the aim of normalizing size, appearance, symmetry, and shape. However, after undergoing a mastectomy, the effects of the surgery or the disease affect the breast region. This usually prompts various reconstruction procedures, which start after or during mastectomy.
Breast cancer reconstruction falls into two types: flap reconstruction or implant reconstruction. Flap reconstruction, also known as autologous, uses tissue from the patient’s body to form a new breast. On the other hand, implant reconstruction relies on implants to create a new breast mound. Before choosing either, you need to consider; the type of mastectomy, body type, and cancer treatment.
Surgeons usually use saline or silicone implants during implant reconstruction. The physician proceeds to place the implant underneath the muscle or skin in place of the previous breast tissue. Implant placement takes part in two stages. The first stage involves placing a tissue expander beneath the remaining pectoralis muscles or breast skin.
After recovering from surgery, the surgeon injects sterile salt water into the skin expander every week. The expander gradually grows and stretches the overlying muscle and skin until the desired size is achieved. The second stage involves inserting the implant after removing the tissue expander.
Unlike implant reconstruction, the surgeon takes tissue from other body parts and uses it to rebuild the breast. For example, the surgeon usually obtains the tissue needed from the abdomen without affecting muscle strength. However, with insufficient tissue in the stomach, fat comes from other parts like the back, thigh, or buttock.
Skin flap reconstruction employs two methods; pedicle or free flap surgery. Free flap involves removing blood vessels and tissue to help with circulation. Pedicle flap surgery does not require tissue to be entirely removed, but the surgeon rotates this onto the chest to form the breast.
Learn about various breast cancer reconstruction procedures available at Signature & Reconstructive Surgery. Contact us today and schedule an appointment with a team of experts.