Reconstruction of the breast following removal (mastectomy) can frequently result in enhanced physical appearance for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgical restoration of a breast can improve a woman’s sense of femininity and her self-image following mastectomy.
The breast which has been removed is replaced by either a permanent implant or a woman’s own skin, fat, and muscle — most typically from the abdomen (TRAM flap). More than one operation is usually required to complete a breast reconstruction, the first one performed either on the day of the mastectomy or at an appropriate later date. Frequently the nipple can also be reconstructed. The healthy opposite breast often requires surgery in order to more completely achieve an even balanced physical appearance and symmetry.
Because the post-mastectomy breast reconstruction options available to women are frequently complex and difficult to decipher, discussion with your plastic surgeon is encouraged. Such consultation can result in a better understanding of these operations and their beneficial influence and impact on breast cancer patients’ lives.
Are You a Good Candidate?
- If you are going to have either one or both breasts removed (mastectomy) for cancer treatment.
- If you have already had one or both breasts removed for cancer treatment.
- If your general medical health is good.
- Re-creation of a breast in order to improve physical appearance while dressed.
- Improved self-image and sense of femininity.
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- Placement of temporary skin expander followed by permanent implant.
- Transfer of skin/fat/muscle from another site on the body (i.e., abdomen) to the chest with shaping of breast.
- Creation of nipple and areola.
- Reduction/enlargement of opposite healthy breast to enhance appearance and symmetry.
Recuperation and Healing
- Varies depending on operation — several days to several months.
- May need to temporarily restrict physical activities during the healing period.
- No breast reconstruction.
- Combined implant and skin/fat/muscle reconstruction.
- Reduction of opposite healthy breast.
- Enlargement of healthy opposite breast.
- Most insurance companies provide breast reconstruction benefits when cancer has been diagnosed.
- In Washington state it is law that insurance must provide coverage for breast reconstruction following mastectomy.
- The specific risk and suitability of the procedure for a given woman can be determined only at the time of consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Minor complications that do not affect the outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are unusual. Such possible complications are best reviewed with your plastic surgeon prior to surgery.
- No photographs are currently available for this procedure.