Breast reconstruction is a highly individualized procedure and a very personal one. Many patients seek out Dr. Lee B. Daniel’s advice even prior to having a mastectomy because of the emotional and physical effects of fighting breast cancer.
This procedure can help you take the next step to regain your self-image and your quality of life. At Dr. Daniel's plastic surgery practice in Eugene, we perform several techniques in breast reconstruction The latest surgical techniques have made it possible to create a breast that closely matches the existing natural breast. In many cases, the surgery can be performed immediately after mastectomy, so you wake up with a breast already in place.
Candidates for Breast Reconstruction
The best candidates are women whose cancer, as far as can be determined, has been eliminated by mastectomy.
Indications for breast reconstruction include:
- Mastectomy: surgical operation to remove breast
- Lumpectomy: surgical removal of lump in breast
Surgery: What to Expect
As a patient of Dr. Daniel’s, you can expect to receive the support and care of a surgeon who will walk you through each stage of breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction following a complete or partial mastectomy can have many stages. The first stage, whether performed at the same time as the mastectomy or not, will be performed in a hospital under general anesthesia depending on the requirements. Follow-up procedures may be performed at an outpatient facility with only local anesthesia.
There are two common methods of breast reconstruction: tissue expansion and flap reconstruction.
Tissue Expansion and Implants
Following mastectomy, Dr. Daniel will insert a balloon expander beneath your skin and chest muscle. Through a tiny valve mechanism buried under the skin, a salt-water solution is periodically injected, gradually filling the expander over the course of several weeks or months. The balloon stretches the skin over the breast area, creating a pocket for a breast implant.
Once the skin has stretched enough, the expander is removed and the implant is inserted. Some specially designed expanders can be left in place as the final implant. A third procedure is required to reconstruct the nipple and the dark skin surrounding it, called the areola. Some patients do not require preliminary tissue expansion before receiving an implant. For these women, Dr. Daniel will proceed with inserting the implant as the first step.
Flap reconstruction uses tissue taken from other parts of the body such as the back, abdomen or buttocks. The tissue may remain attached to its original blood supply, or a new supply may be found. The flap, consisting of skin, muscle and fat, is tunneled beneath the skin to the chest, creating a pocket for an implant, or in some cases, creating the new breast itself.
This type of breast reconstruction is relatively complex. Scars will be left at both the tissue donor site and the reconstructed breast, and recovery will take longer than with an implant. However, using your own tissue can provide more natural results, without the concern of implant rupture.
After Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction usually involves a series of procedures over time. Follow-up surgery may be required to reconstruct the nipple and areola and to re-contour the new breast for a natural appearance.
Depending on the extent of your surgery, you can expect to spend approximately 2-5 days in the hospital. Many reconstruction options require a surgical drain to remove excess fluids from surgical sites immediately following the operation. These are typically removed a week or two after surgery. Stitches are removed after one week. Breast reconstruction recovery, when combined with a mastectomy, can take six weeks. Recovery may be shorter if implants are used without flaps, or if your reconstruction is not combined with mastectomy.
Learn More About Breast Reconstruction in Eugene, Oregon
To learn more about breast reconstruction, email us or call Aesthetic Plastic Surgery at 541-687-8900 for a consultation. Our plastic surgery practice in Eugene, Oregon is within convenient driving distance of Springfield, Corvallis, and Portland.