What is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction surgery aims to restore one or both breasts to their previous appearance, size, shape, and symmetry following another procedure. In most cases, breast reconstruction is performed after a mastectomy or lumpectomy as part of breast cancer treatment, but it may also be a part of treatments for other problems or injuries affecting the breasts. At Rowe Plastic Surgery, our board-certified Red Bank plastic surgeons take pride in achieving the highest standards for breast reconstruction to help women feel comfortable and confident in their bodies after cancer treatment and recovery.

In most cases, breast reconstruction takes place in stages. It often begins at the same time as the mastectomy, while completion will take place at a later date. Your surgeon can recommend a breast reconstruction procedure that is best suited to support your recovery and help you achieve your aesthetic goals.

What are the main types of breast reconstruction?

There are two major types of breast reconstruction: implant-based reconstruction, which makes use of breast implants to reconstruct the shape of the breast. The second, flap or autologous reconstruction, makes use of tissue and fat from elsewhere in your body to reconstruct the appearance of the breast. Your surgeon will recommend implant-based or flap reconstruction based on your medical circumstances, including the type of mastectomy you had, other cancer treatments taking place, and your overall body shape.

In the case that you pursue implant-based reconstruction, you may choose implants filled with either silicone gel or saline water. Your surgeon at Rowe Plastic Surgery can recommend an implant size, shape, and type based on your concerns and priorities as well as a review of your medical record. Prior to the insertion of the implants, the chest tissue may be gently stretched with extenders for a comfortable feel and natural appearance.

There are also several options for autologous or flap reconstruction. Skin, fat, blood vessels and muscle tissue may be taken from different parts of the body. A TRAM flap involves tissue from the bikini line, a DIEP flap from the lower belly, a TAP flap from the back, a GAP flap from the buttocks, or a TUG flap from the thighs.

Fat grafting may also be used as part of the reconstruction process. Liposuction is used to remove small amounts of fat from other areas of the body for insertion into the breast tissue.

When should breast reconstruction take place?

Your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon can work together to determine the best option for your breast reconstruction surgery. In some cases, you can begin the surgical reconstruction process at the same time as your mastectomy. If you do not need to receive further radiation as part of your cancer treatment, this may be a feasible option. In other cases, women may choose delayed reconstruction after their mastectomy is completed. Some women may have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy in the past and later choose to pursue breast reconstruction.

Staged breast reconstruction is a third option, in which a tissue expander is inserted following a mastectomy to prepare for the final reconstructive procedure when an implant or autologous grant will be placed.

What is recovery like after breast reconstruction?

Your plastic surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions to care for your incisions and reconstructed breasts after your surgery. Immediately after the surgery, gauze, bandages, and an elastic support bra may be used to provide extra support and prevent swelling and further injuries. You can expect the healing process to continue for several weeks. In 4 to 6 weeks of your final surgical procedure in the process, you may expect to resume your full schedule of activities, including exercise and other active tasks.

Breast reconstruction can be an important part of the healing process for many women who have recovered from breast cancer. At Rowe Plastic Surgery, our skilled Red Bank plastic surgeons are dedicated to producing natural, beautiful results that meet your aesthetic goals. If you would like to learn more about breast reconstruction in New Jersey, please use our online form or contact our office at 732-639-5485.

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