About Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction surgery is performed to restore one or both of the breasts to a normal size, shape, and appearance after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. It is also used to repair a breast damaged by trauma or a birth defect. Advanced technologies in breast reconstruction surgery make it possible for you to feel whole again and attain natural-looking breasts even after they have been removed. This surgery generally involves several procedures and various stages that can either be performed at the beginning of your cancer treatment or delayed until a later date. Port St. Lucie, FL plastic surgeon Dr. S. Darrell Lee creates a personalized treatment plan and uses a compassionate approach as we work with you to restore your physical appearance and confidence at Lee Plastic Surgery and Laser Center.
Breast reconstruction is a very individualized procedure. Every patient will have a thorough consultation with Dr. Lee to determine their treatment plan based on their needs, concerns, and available options. If you are considering reconstruction, it is important that you are able to emotionally cope with treatment and have realistic expectations. While Dr. Lee strives to create a natural appearance, your newly reconstructed breast(s) will not have the same feel, look, or sensation as your original breast(s). You should be cleared by your oncology doctor to have surgery and tell Dr. Lee about any other medical conditions that could impair healing.
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There are many techniques available today for breast reconstruction. There are also many factors that Dr. Lee considers when determining the technique that will produce your best results. Some of these factors include cancer diagnosis, reconstruction timing, whether you will use natural tissue or implants, and if nipple-sparing or nipple reconstruction is a part of the process. In order to rebuild the breast, there must be enough tissue to adequately cover the breast mound. Flap techniques accomplish this by using your own skin, fat, and muscle to create, cover, and build the mound. The most common flap techniques are:
- TRAM Flap
This method uses muscle, skin, and fat from your abdomen to rebuild the breast. The tissue used to create the new breast can be detached from the abdomen or it may remain attached to the donor location, keeping the original blood supply.
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap
This method uses muscle, skin, and fat from your back. During this procedure, tissue is moved from the back to the mastectomy site through a surgically created tunnel and remains attached to the donor location, which leaves the original blood supply intact.
- Tissue Expanders
This approach is typically a multi-step process where an inflatable, temporary implant called a tissue expander placed in the breast pocket after a mastectomy. The implant is gradually inflated over a 3-month period in the office until it is filled to an adequate size.
- Composite Flap
Also known as a composite stacked flap, this method combines flaps from various areas on your body to reconstruct the breast.
While flap procedures are usually successful and a common method used in breast reconstruction, you may be able to reconstruct your breast(s) with tissue expansion. This involves placing a tissue expander under the breast wall and then slowly filling it with saline over the course of 4 – 6 months until the skin is properly stretched. After a flap has been created or the skin is stretched through an expander, you can then decide whether you want to use a natural fat transfer or breast implants to create the volume and shape of the breast(s). After your breast reconstruction surgery, you may want to improve the appearance with nipple and areola reconstruction. There are numerous techniques to restore the nipple and areola so that it looks natural.
What to Expect
Breast reconstruction surgery is performed in various stages. During certain phases (such as creating a flap, inserting an expander, or placing implants), general anesthesia may be used. Some patients will require an overnight stay — this is dependent on the actual phase of treatment. Once the final step has been completed in the breast reconstruction process, you will wear a medical support bra and you will be given medication by Dr. Lee to help control bleeding, discomfort, and swelling. Over time, the breast(s) will look normal so you can feel more confident. Ongoing monitoring with mammograms and breast exams are essential and recommended for your ongoing health.
Plan Your Procedure
Reclaim Your Self-Confidence
While the breast reconstruction process can be lengthy, it is considered one of the most worthwhile surgeries for our Port St. Lucie or Jupiter, FL patients at Lee Plastic Surgery and Laser Center. It can help decrease the emotional and physical impact of a mastectomy while also allowing you to reclaim your self-confidence and figure. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, have been impacted by a trauma to the chest, or were born with a defect that affects the appearance of your breasts, we invite you to call our office and schedule your consultation with Dr. S. Darrell Lee.