Breast Reconstruction Surgery
A mastectomy, lumpectomy, or genetic deformity can cause breasts to lose size, shape, and symmetry. Breast reconstruction surgery restores one or both breasts to their normal appearance. There are different categories of breast reconstructions, including implant-based reconstructions and flap reconstructions, and surgery usually involves multiple procedures. The timing of the procedure is also a consideration, especially for a patient who has breast reconstruction after a mastectomy.
If you are looking into breast reconstruction, some basic information about the procedure and your options will help you to make the right decision to achieve the results you desire. Dr. Poser, a certified plastic surgeon with over 30 years of experience, performs breast reconstructions as well as a range of other breast surgeries. To schedule a consultation, call or visit our plastic surgery center in Gainesville, FL.
Choosing A Breast Reconstruction Procedure
There are several options for breast reconstruction surgery which you should discuss with your plastic surgeon. One consideration is the timing of the procedure, especially after a mastectomy. A patient can have a breast reconstruction around the same time as a mastectomy or elect for delayed breast reconstruction until the previous surgery has healed.
As for the surgical procedure itself, patients can choose between breast reconstruction with implants or flap reconstruction. For implant-based reconstructions, the surgeon uses a tissue expander to make room for a gel or silicone-filled implant. Sometimes, patients will have additional procedures to adjust or change the look of the implant in the future. Flap reconstructions, on the other hand, use the body’s existing tissue in the reconstruction. Donor tissue is transferred from the buttocks, back, or abdomen to the breast.
Flap reconstructions require shorter surgery times but involve more extended recovery periods. The two procedures have different risks, as well. Flap surgery can cause a slight or full loss of sensations for the breasts and donor site. While implants may leak or cause the contraction of scar tissue (capsular contracture). Other factors that could influence Dr. Poser’s recommendation include your body type, past mastectomies, and cosmetic goals.
What Are The Steps Of A Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Breast reconstruction is often used to reshape breasts after a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. Some women also use the procedure to correct asymmetrical breasts caused by other factors, like genetics. When used on patients after a single mastectomy, the procedure’s purpose is to make the treated breast look symmetrical to the one that is cancer free. A patient can also receive breast reconstruction after a double mastectomy to restore both breasts to their previous appearance.
Most women who undergo breast cancer treatments are eligible for either implant-based or flap reconstructions. The procedure involves several steps that may vary based on the patient.
For your comfort during the surgery, anesthetic is administered. Dr. Poser may recommend either intravenous sedation or a general anesthetic, depending on your medical needs.
Flap Technique & Tissue Expansion
There are many types of flap reconstruction techniques (TRAM flap, DIEP flap, SIEA flap, etc.) that utilize donor muscle, fat, or tissue from various areas of the body in different ways.
Implant-based reconstructions involve a process known as tissue expansion: a silicone or air-filled implant is temporarily inserted and then gradually enlarged over several follow-up procedures until the breast tissue is sufficiently expanded to conceal a permanent implant.
Direct-to-implant breast reconstruction is possible when the patient has sufficient breast tissue for the procedure. Alternatively, sometimes a previous mastectomy leaves too little breast tissue to cover the implant, even after a tissue expansion, in which case the surgeon may also use a flap technique.
Nipple Or Areola Reconstruction
In cases where the nipple cannot be spared during the mastectomy, the surgeon may reconstruct the nipple and areola by folding over a section of skin to make a three-dimensional platform for tattooing realistic-looking nipples.
Additional Plastic Surgery Procedures
The transfer of muscle, tissue, and fat from the donor site may give the body an asymmetrical look around the stomach or buttocks.Liposuction, fat grafting, and other cosmetic procedures can restore symmetry to the body. These procedures can be performed at the same time as the breast reconstruction or at a later date.
Are You A Good Candidate For Breast Reconstruction?
Whether you’ve had a mastectomy or want to improve the appearance of one or both breasts, breast reconstruction surgery may be the answer for you. As with all plastic surgery procedures, breast reconstruction should never be performed to satisfy someone else’s desires but rather to please one’s own conception of beauty and to build confidence. Especially after a mastectomy or lumpectomy, or years of living with a congenital breast deformity, having one's breasts restored to their desired appearance can be both physically transformational and emotionally uplifting.
Before you decide to go forward with the surgery, though, you must first learn whether you’re a good candidate for breast reconstruction. During the consultation, Dr. Poser will decide whether the procedure is a match for your body type, health, and aesthetic goals. In general, suitable candidates for breast reconstructions are emotionally prepared, free of any illnesses or conditions that could slow the healing process, and realistic about their expectations.
After physical and mental health, realistic expectations are the most essential quality for a breast reconstruction candidate to have. A reconstructed breast has a visibly improved appearance, but its feel and sensations aren’t the same as a natural breast. Practically all breast surgeries, including reconstructions involving breast augmentations (implants), leave some scarring. Flap breast reconstructions, which include tissue transfers, may also leave scars at the donor site on the body (buttocks, abdomen, back). However, Dr. Poser is an experienced cosmetic surgeon who uses special techniques to limit signs of surgery on the body.
How Much Do Breast Reconstructions Cost?
A surgeon's location and level of experience along with subsequent costs, such as anesthesia and postoperative medications or garments, all affect breast reconstruction surgery costs. Compared to other cosmetic surgery centers in Gainesville, Dr. Poser offers competitively priced breast surgery procedures as well as financing options.
Poser Plastic Surgery Center also accepts most major health insurance plans for applicable procedures. According to The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (1998), group health plans that cover mastectomies must also pay for postoperative care, including reconstructive surgery. To learn whether your insurance provider covers breast reconstructions after mastectomies, or for questions about plastic surgery prices or payment plans, call our office to schedule a consultation.
What To Ask During A Consultation?
During a consultation, Dr. Poser will ask about your goals for surgery, your medical history, any supplements or medications you take, whether you’re a tobacco user, and what surgeries you’ve had previously. A physical evaluation may also be part of the consultation, including measurements of the shape and form of the breasts and observations about skin quality.
The consultation is also your opportunity to learn about breast reconstruction surgery and decide whether it is right for you. Prepare a list of questions to ask Dr. Poser. General questions might include how the procedure is performed, what is the average recovery time, and what are the associated risks? You can also ask your breast reconstruction surgeon for before-and-after pictures showing the procedures. Finally, discuss any personal feelings you have; for instance, it’s normal to feel anxious about surgery. Dr. Poser is an experienced plastic surgeon who knows how to relate to patients’ concerns as well provide straightforward answers to help them feel at ease.
How Should You Prepare For Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Dr. Poser will provide you with personalized instructions on how to prepare for surgery. In general, plastic surgeons recommend patients get a physical with lab work, avoid taking anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, and supplements that may increase bleeding, and stop smoking.
What To Expect During Breast Reconstruction Recovery
Toward the end of the procedure, the plastic surgeon will bandage your chest. These bandages should remain worn for as long as directed. Additionally, elastic bandages or a support bra, such as a sports bra, can offer protection and reduce swelling. Sometimes, a thin drainage tube will remain inserted into the chest for excess fluid or blood.
You should have a trusted friend or family member available to drive you home after surgery. You’ll need to fill any prescriptions at the pharmacy and take the medications as directed to limit pain, swelling, and the chance of infection.
In several weeks, the swelling will dissipate as the incisions on the breasts heal. You’ll need to attend all follow-up appointments and keep on schedule with additional procedures if they're necessary. Also, if you experience problems or complications, such as shortness of breath, alert a physician.
Once the reconstructed breasts are healed, they can help you feel transformed after the physical and emotional effects of the mastectomy. Many patients experience a loss of sensation in their breasts, but some may return. And many patients feel that the trade-offs justify the procedure.
Why Choose Our Gainesville Plastic Surgery Center?
While breast reconstruction surgery involves many choices, one of the most important is to select a qualified plastic surgeon. With nearly four decades in the medical profession, Dr. Poser is excellent at anticipating his patients' needs and helping them choose the most appropriate surgeries. If you're a candidate for breast reconstruction in Gainesville, FL, Dr. Poser will not only walk you through the procedure. He’ll also help you decide which type of reconstruction is the right choice to achieve the results you want. Our plastic surgery center also takes qualifying insurance and offers flexible payment plans.
If you’ve had a mastectomy or feel hampered by asymmetrical breasts, learn how Dr. Poser can help restore the natural look you desire. Call Poser Plastic Surgery Center to schedule a consultation today.