At Atlanta Plastic Surgery, we offer all kinds of reconstructive procedures, and breast reconstruction surgery is one of our most common for women who have endured breast cancer. Reconstructive surgery is about more than getting your old body back—it’s about rejecting the toll, both physical and emotional, that something like a mastectomy can take. There are many types of breast reconstruction surgery, but two of the most common are implant reconstruction and autologous, or “flap,” reconstruction. A decision between these two methods will likely come down to your own goals for your body, your unique situation, and how much time you’re willing to spend in surgery and recovery.
Autologous or “flap” breast reconstruction surgery involves transplanting tissue from a donor site (the part of the patient’s body chosen to provide tissue for new breasts) to the chest, where it’s molded into the shape of a breast and set into place. Although this procedure requires two incisions and is therefore more time-intensive, the results typically last for the rest of the patient’s lifetime.
The most common donor sites are the back, belly, buttocks, and inner-thighs. There are several subcategories of autologous reconstruction, but some of the most common are DIEP flap, latissimus dorsi flap, and TRAM flap, all of which are offered at Atlanta Plastic Surgery.
Women who have had single mastectomies (only one breast removed) may prefer autologous surgery over implant surgery, as artificial implants are not as easily shaped to recreate the fall and shape of a patient’s remaining natural breast. Autologous surgeries can differ from one another in several ways, but your surgeon will use his or her experience and expertise, as well as your distinct circumstances and wishes, to decide what’s best for you.
During implant reconstruction surgery, your surgeon uses a saline or silicone implant to reconstruct the breast mound, much like he or she would during traditional breast augmentation surgery. Unlike autologous surgery, no donor site is required. The use of an implant eliminates the need to transplant tissue from one part of your body to another. However, the same qualities that make implant surgery a shorter, simpler procedure also contribute to some of its potential drawbacks for some considering this option.
Although artificial implants can look effectively natural, some patients prefer the look and feel of tissue from their own bodies. Implant surgery can sometimes be a better choice for thinner patients, as slimmer women typically don’t have as much excess tissue to transplant. Double mastectomy patients (women who have had both breasts removed) may opt for implant reconstruction surgery to eliminate concerns of breast asymmetry. Single mastectomy patients with little-to-no sag on their remaining breasts may also prefer this option.
Artificial implants can last for decades, but most manufacturers recommend that they be replaced every 10–20 years. If you’re concerned about the amount of time you’ll be spending in waiting rooms and on operating tables, this factor may help you make your decision.
If you’re looking to have reconstructive surgery in Atlanta, GA, please contact one of our Atlanta Plastic Surgery offices to schedule a consultation.