Your AesthetiCare cosmetic surgeons in Newport Beach, Corona, San Juan Capistrano, and Encinitas and their team are committed to restoring and improving physical appearance with breast reconstruction procedures.
If you have suffered from a disease or a deformity, there are surgical reconstruction procedures that will correct and enhance your body and self-image. You will find the most accurate and knowledgeable information and advice, as it relates to your interest in breast reconstruction surgery, throughout our website. Attention to detail in all areas of your surgical experience is of paramount importance to us. From your initial consultation, pre-operative preparation and surgical procedure, to your compressive aftercare, our physicians and staff place your safety and satisfaction ahead of everything else.
The loss of a breast to cancer is as much an emotional loss as it is a traumatic physical loss. Women fear the disfiguring surgery, feeling less attractive, less feminine, and less of a whole person.
How Is Breast Reconstruction Performed?
With today’s reconstructive surgery techniques, surgeons can rebuild a breast so that it will match in both appearance and shape to a natural breast. The surgery can be as simple as creating a pocket and placing a breast implant, or more complex involving muscle and tissue flaps to create a breast mound. The type of surgery you will need depends on your individual circumstances and the extent of your mastectomy. Two or more surgeries are usually required to reconstruct the breast.
Breast reconstruction techniques can also be used to correct severely asymmetrical breasts, such as a very large breast on one side and an undeveloped breast on the opposite side. The undeveloped breast may have a missing or undeveloped breast muscle.
The first stage of breast reconstruction involves creating the breast mound. Follow-up surgery will reconstruct the nipple and areola (the dark skin around the nipple). When there is adequate skin, surgery can be as simple as creating a pocket under the remaining muscle and placing a breast implant beneath it.
The most common surgical technique combines the use of a tissue expander and the placing of an implant. A tissue expander is a type of balloon that is placed under the skin and gradually filled with saline (salt water) solution over a period of weeks. The expander stretches the skin enough to allow an implant to be placed under the chest muscle.
Alternative surgical procedures involve using a skin flap with tissues taken from the back or abdomen. The skin flap, consisting of fat, skin and muscle with its blood supply attached is tunneled beneath the adjacent skin and moved into position to create a new breast mound. Sometimes these tissues are detached and then transplanted to the chest to form a breast mound. If there is sufficient tissue in the flap, a breast implant may not be needed.
Follow-up surgery consists of reconstructing the nipple and areola. Tattooing of the areola will create the natural dark color. Many surgeons recommend additional surgery to lift, enlarge or reduce the opposite natural breast to match the reconstructed breast. Some feeling may return to the reconstructed breast, but normal sensation in the breast cannot be restored. Scars will fade over time and every effort is made to make them as inconspicuous as possible.
What Is My Breast Reconstruction Recovery Like?
You will need to take it easy for a few days after each surgery. Soreness is normal for a week or two and you may not feel like your old self for several weeks. Any discomfort can be controlled with pain medication prescribed by your surgeon.
Breast reconstruction following a mastectomy is one of the most rewarding surgical procedures. It will not only restore your breast, but your self-confidence as well. You will feel emotionally charged and physically attractive. You will feel like a whole woman again.
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Reconstruction
When is breast reconstruction a good option?
Breast reconstructive surgery is carried out after a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or injury to the breasts. It can improve your self-esteem and body image by restoring symmetry to the breasts following cancer treatment.
What are my options for breast reconstruction if I have a mastectomy?
There are different types of breast reconstruction for mastectomy patients, including implants and flap reconstruction. Implants involve placing a silicone or saline implant in the chest to create artificial breasts that restore a silhouette similar to what you had before mastectomy.
Many women will require to use a tissue expander before the implant is placed.
Flap reconstruction involves the transfer of skin, fat, and occasionally muscle from other parts of the body to create new breasts in place of those removed. The best candidates for flap reconstruction tend to be smaller women with a thinner frame. You can also have both techniques combined.
Which reconstruction method is best for me?
Your surgeon will help you decide what method is best for you based on your medical history, body type, and preferences. Factors to consider include your age, smoking status (smoking increases the risk of flap complications), body weight, current treatment needs, past surgical procedures, and skin elasticity.
How long is the reconstruction process?
The reconstruction process can take weeks or even months. Make sure to discuss your complete medical history with your surgeon before surgery and ask about any specific concerns you might have.
When placing implants, the surgery is carried out in phases. Breast creation occurs during phase one. This is where a tissue expander is placed, which will gradually be filled over the following weeks. Once the expander has stretched the skin to the appropriate amount, a permanent implant is placed. During phase three, the areola and the nipple are added. The whole process can take six months to one year to complete.
Are there risks associated with breast reconstruction?
The risks of the procedure may include pain, discomfort, and numbness or tightness around the breast tissue. Your surgeon will prescribe appropriate pain medications and take all precautions to reduce risks.
What if my natural breast does not match my reconstructed breast?
Your board-certified surgeon will attempt to make your reconstructed breast match the natural breast as closely as possible. In the case of a unilateral mastectomy, your surgeon may need to perform a breast reduction, breast lift (mastopexy), or breast augmentation on the opposite breast to ensure symmetry.
How soon can I return to work after surgery?
The amount of time needed for recovery varies from person to person. Generally, you can return to normal, less strenuous activities in two weeks. Patients are advised to work closely with their surgeon and follow all post-operative instructions to accelerate the healing process.