The experience of breast cancer, the accompanying mastectomy, chemotherapy and follow-up treatments are all traumatic elements of becoming ill with breast cancer. One thing that helps many women is the option to have their breast or breasts restored following surgery.
The Breast Reconstruction Process
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that allows women to regain very close to normal breast appearance after undergoing a mastectomy. Even though breast reconstruction works well to build a new breast, the following should be kept in mind:
- The reconstructed breast’s sensitivity will not be equivalent to that of the original breast.
- Lines where the incisions were made will be visible on the breast to some degree—initially from the mastectomy and then after the reconstructive surgery (these should be minimal). Breast reconstruction can be performed either with breast implants or with donor tissue from a woman's body. There are many complicated issues involved in deciding which is right for you.
- Some reconstructive techniques used in surgery will leave scar lines at the locations where tissue is used to rebuild the breast (areas such as the buttocks, back or abdomen).
Deciding to have Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Your cosmetic surgeon will talk with you confidentially in a comfortable setting. Be sure to ask questions until you fully understand the procedure and feel good about moving forward. The final step will be that you will sign consent forms indicating that you have full knowledge of the surgery and all potential risks.
What to Expect from the Surgery
Often a patient’s mastectomy or radiation treatments do not leave sufficient tissue on the chest to place an implant. In these cases, a flap technique or tissue expansion procedure is employed to assist in breast reconstruction.
A TRAM flap uses the patient’s abdominal skin, muscle and fat area to recreate the breast. The flap may be completely detached and shaped into a breast or it may be attached to the blood supply and be tunneled up through the chest wall.
After this type of flap surgery, gauze bandages are placed over the incisions. To keep swelling down and support the rebuilt breast, a support bra will be used. For a short while, a thin tube may be placed under the skin to drain off excess fluids. A pain pump containing narcotics is an option to control your pain levels.
Most women are highly satisfied with breast reconstruction’s final results, which work well to diminish the negative experience of a mastectomy. If you want the best results from your reconstruction, it is often better to work with a skilled cosmetic surgeon, and it is best to consult with him or her early in the process so he or she can work with your other doctors to find the best solution for you.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and want breast reconstruction to be a part of your recovery, schedule a breast reconstruction consultation with a local cosmetic surgeon today.