Is it the right choice for you?
Not every woman facing a mastectomy feels the need for breast reconstruction, but for many women it is an important next step in their recovery and overall healing. What has changed over the years is the number of options when it comes to choosing breast implants and surgical techniques.
Most women are good candidates for breast reconstruction.
Some women want breast reconstruction after a mastectomy because the feel a lack of wholeness or a loss of femininity. For others, the reason is more practical-they simply don’t like the hassle or worry associated with wearing a breast prosthesis.
Breast reconstruction procedures vary depending on the results you desire along with your particular situation and other physical and psychological factors. Again, being informed about your options will help you and your surgeon make the right choices.
Any breast reconstruction process will require multiple procedures. The actual number of surgeries and recovery time will vary.
Stage 1: Placing the expander
This method of breast reconstruction involves the use of a tissue expander and a breast implant. A tissue expander is a balloon-like device made from elastic silicone rubber. During a mastectomy, the general surgeon removes skin and breast tissue, leaving the chest tissues flat and tight. To create a breast-shaped space for the breast implant, a tissue expander is placed under the remaining chest tissues.
Stage 2: Placing the breast implant
After the tissue expander is removed, the breast implant is placed in the pocket. In reconstruction following a mastectomy, a breast implant is most often placed sub-muscularly. The surgery to replace the tissue expander with a breast implant (implant exchange) is usually done under general anesthesia in an operating room. It may require a brief hospital stay or be done on an outpatient basis.
Stage 3: Nipple Reconstruction
Nipple reconstruction is normally done as a separate outpatient procedure after the initial reconstruction surgery is complete. Because the nipple and areola are usually removed with the breast tissue during a mastectomy, the nipple is usually reconstructed by using a skin graft from another area of the body or from the opposite breast. Donated skin mayalso be used. The area also may be tattooed to obtain a better color match.