Breast reconstruction surgery is for women who have undergone a mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. Reconstruction surgery restores the breast to its previous shape and size as much as possible. Nipple reconstruction can also be performed to make the new breast resemble the original breast as much as possible.
Breast reconstruction can be performed by using breast implants to restore breast size. Implants come in both saline and silicone and are designed to mimic the look and feel of the natural breast as much as possible. Another option for breast reconstruction surgery is to use the patient’s own tissues, a procedure known as a tissue flap. In some cases, a combination of the two techniques produces the best result.
Breast reconstruction surgery is specifically for women who have lost part or all of a breast due to cancer treatment. The best candidates are usually women with small to medium-sized breasts, without other underlying medical conditions. Patients who are coping well with their diagnosis and subsequent treatment generally have the best outcomes with reconstruction surgery.
Breast reconstruction surgery is often performed in phases, so candidates need to be prepared for more than one procedure to achieve their desired results. The first step can often be performed at the same time as the mastectomy. However, some patients may prefer to delay starting reconstruction surgery until their cancer treatments are complete.
About the Procedure
The specifics of breast reconstruction surgery will depend on a number of factors, including:
- The original size of the breasts
- When reconstruction surgery will begin (at time of mastectomy, after cancer treatment)
- Whether implants or a tissue flap will be used
- Whether surgery will be done in one procedure or series of steps
Breast reconstruction surgery from board-certified plastic surgeon Geoffrey Leber is usually performed under general anesthesia in a hospital or surgical suite. During the procedure, Dr. Leber focuses on creating symmetry between the two breasts for a proportionate, natural look. Symmetry must be met in the creation of the breast crease, breast fullness and the teardrop shape of the breast.
Recovery and Results
Recovery will also depend on the specific procedure that was performed. If the reconstruction was done at the time of the mastectomy, a brief hospital stay will be required. After surgery, patients are given oral pain medication to manage discomfort and a special bandage or support bra to minimize swelling and promote healing.
Healing will take a number of weeks, so improvements in the look of the breast will be seen gradually. Most women return to work and regular activities within 4-6 weeks. Breast reconstruction is an emotional, as well as a physical process, so it may take additional time for women to feel ready to pick up the pace of life once again.
If you are facing a potential breast reconstruction surgery, our team can help. For more information about your options in breast reconstruction, contact Dr. Leber and his staff today.