We realize National Breast Reconstruction Day isn’t until October 17 this year, but the skilled surgeons of Atlanta Plastic Surgery believe awareness shouldn’t be limited to just one day. They understand that knowledge is power, especially when it comes to a topic like breast cancer and reconstruction. They also understand that most women have hoped they would never have to ask questions like these, which is why our reconstructive surgeons spend time with each patient during consultation to discuss every question and concern while explaining the available options and the procedures’ details. The questions and answers below can help prepare patients for breast reconstruction consultation and surgery.
Who is a candidate for breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction surgery is designed for women who have undergone a breast cancer removal like mastectomy or lumpectomy or those who have such breast cancer treatment scheduled in the future. Breast reconstructive surgery helps rebuild a woman’s breast(s) to replace the tissue removed and produce natural looking results. Depending on the type of procedure and other variables, breast reconstruction may be done in stages, all at once, immediately following cancer removal, or years later in life.
When can I have breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as the cancer removal surgery, a process known as oncoplastic surgery. However, breast reconstruction can also be delayed. Women who expect to have radiation after mastectomy usually choose to postpone reconstruction, while others prefer to have both of their procedures at once.
I had a mastectomy years ago and no one told me reconstruction was an option. Is it an option for me now, or is it too late?
It is not too late to have breast reconstruction surgery. Sadly, many breast cancer patients aren’t made aware of their options, but reconstruction can be pursued at any time as long as doing so doesn’t interfere with cancer treatment. It’s best to talk with both your oncologist and reconstructive surgeon to decide what option makes the most long-term sense given your care plan.
What are my breast reconstruction options?
Plastic and reconstructive surgeons are always refining their surgical techniques to provide better options and outcomes for patients, and there are a variety of options for breast reconstruction surgery. If there is enough remaining breast tissue to work with after cancer removal and treatment, breast reconstruction can be performed through the insertion of a breast implant. If the remaining breast tissue is too tight for a breast implant to fit, a tissue expander can be used to make room for it.
Other options for breast reconstruction include the TRAM flap (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) and DIEP flap (deep inferior epigastric perforator), during which a reconstructive surgeon uses a patient’s own tissue to recreate a breast mound. The TRAM flap technique, developed by Atlanta Plastic Surgery’s founder Dr. Carl Hartrampf, Jr. and perfected by other Atlanta Plastic Surgery surgeons, uses tissue from the patient’s abdomen to rebuild the breast. The DIEP flap technique uses tissue from a patient’s back. Once the breast has been rebuilt, nipple reconstruction (areola reconstruction) is performed. During nipple reconstruction, a plastic surgeon usually takes tissue from another area of the patient’s body to reconstruct a nipple. Cosmetic tattooing may be performed as a finishing touch to provide the most natural looking results possible.