Breast cancer will potentially affect one out of every eight women in the United States today, but with improved technology to facilitate early detection, advancements in our understanding of the disease, and a greater variety of treatment options to choose from, survival rates are higher than ever before. Still, in many cases, the treatment for breast cancer involves a mastectomy, or the surgical removal of one or both breasts, and after that procedure many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction surgery. What many women do not realize, however, is that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” breast reconstruction, and that there are a number of different choices, throughout the process, that can customize each breast reconstruction procedure to the specific needs of the individual patient. Here are just two of the many different choices that are available.
Choosing the Timing of Your Breast Reconstruction
Many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction immediately after their mastectomy, which can reduce the overall time that needs to be spent in recovery and provide a much-needed psychological boost. However, immediate breast reconstruction is not the only option available. Because radiation and chemotherapy can potentially cause changes in the color, texture, or appearance of the breast, particularly if a breast implant has been used in the reconstruction, some physicians advise that patients wait six to twelve months after their mastectomy or lumpectomy before breast reconstruction surgery. Moreover, an intermediate or “staged” approach can also be used in cases where neither a delayed nor an immediate reconstruction is fully appropriate and some women even forego breast reconstruction entirely. The board-certified plastic surgeons at Atlanta Plastic Surgery will always review a patient’s entire medical history, consult with their oncologist, and discuss with them their personal aesthetic goals when determining how to proceed with their procedure.
Choosing between Artificial Implants and Natural Tissue Flaps
Breast reconstruction is usually accomplished in one of two ways: through the use of artificial breast implants or through the use of an autologous tissue flap. The former works like a standard breast augmentation procedure, using artificial saline or silicone breast implants to replace the breast tissue that has been removed. Tissue flap breast reconstruction, on the other hand, works by transferring fat, muscle, and skin from one area of the patient’s body, such as the abdomen or back, to the chest where it is then used to reconstruct the breast. Both approaches have their own distinct advantages and, when they are performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, can achieve extremely natural-looking breast reconstruction results. Ultimately the choice of which approach to use will be based on a detailed examination of the needs of the patient as well as her individual aesthetic preference.
Since we were founded in 1968, the board certified plastic surgeons at Atlanta Plastic Surgery have performed breast reconstruction procedures for thousands of women, and so we understand that every individual case is unique. If you have questions about breast reconstruction or what approach might be right for you, please contact one of our offices in Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Cumming, or Newnan to schedule a consultation. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to get all the latest plastic surgery news and updates.