If You're Considering Breast Reconstruction...
Reconstruction of a breast that has been removed due to cancer or other disease is one of the most rewarding surgical procedures available today. New medical techniques and devices have made it possible for surgeons to create a breast that can come close in form and appearance to matching a natural breast. Frequently, reconstruction is possible immediately following breast removal (mastectomy), so the patient wakes up with a breast mound already in place, having been spared the experience of seeing herself with no breast at all.
But bear in mind, post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is not a simple procedure. There are often many options to consider as you and your doctor explore what's best for you.
This information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure – when it's appropriate, how it's done, and what results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask your surgeon if there is anything you don't understand about the procedure.
An expander is gradually filled with saline through an integrated or separate tube to stretch the skin enough to accept an implant beneath the chest muscle.
A TRAM flap uses muscle, fat and skin from your abdomen to reconstruct the breast. The flap may either remain attached to the original blood supply and be tunneled up through the chest wall, or be completely detached and formed into a breast mound.
A Latissimus Dorsi flap uses muscle, fat and skin from the back tunneled to the mastectomy site and remains attached to its donor site, leaving blood supply intact.
Tissue can be taken from the back and tunneled to the front of the chest wall to support the reconstructed breast.
The transported tissue forms a flap for a breast implant, or it may provide enough bulk to form the breast mound without an implant.