Breast Reconstruction: What to Expect

When a woman has breast cancer, she may undergo a lumpectomy to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue, or a mastectomy to remove one or both breasts. This can be a difficult change to accept. Many women choose to get breast reconstruction to feel like themselves once again. 

What Is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure done to rebuild a breast lost to mastectomy. It can also fill out and give symmetry to a breast that’s lost significant tissue to a lumpectomy. Dr. Lorraine Golosow offers breast reconstruction at her Florida office. 

Types Of Reconstruction

When it comes to this procedure, there are two main options to give women the breasts they want.

1.Implant: Breast reconstruction can be done using either a saline or silicone implant that goes under the chest muscles or on top of them. If you have skin and tissue left after the operation, sometimes the implant may be added at the same time as the cancer surgery.

If you get a mastectomy, you may need to have a tissue expander put in before you can get your final implants. The expander will go under the skin and it will gradually be filled with saline to stretch the skin to make sure there is enough to cover the implant once it’s placed.

2. Flap: Flap reconstruction is also called autologous reconstruction. It uses tissue from the woman’s own body to recreate the shape of a breast. There are two main methods to flap reconstruction:

1. Free flap: This method is when the entire piece of donor tissue is removed from its blood vessels, moved to the new location and reattached to the blood vessels there via microsurgery.

2.Pedicle flap: This option is where the donor flap is still attached to its blood vessels and it’s moved under the skin to the new location in the chest. This method is easier because doctors are often more familiar with it and it does not require microsurgery. Different procedures are depending on which donor site you and your doctor choose for the flap.

Risks And Precautions

Risks of the surgery include:

  • Fluid buildup
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • infection
  • Capsular contracture
  • Implant leaking or rupturing
  • Necrosis

Other things to know:

  • Implant surgery may require a healthy breast to be surgically altered for symmetry
  • Some flap procedures make pregnancy afterward inadvisable
  • Implants often do not last a lifetime and need to be replaced
  • Breasts may be uneven

Recovery

Recovery from reconstruction can take 6-8 weeks. Things to know about recovery:

  • You may have drains and compression garments
  • You will have lifting restrictions
  • Full healing may take 1+ years
  • Avoid strenuous activity for 4-6 weeks after

Your doctor will give you aftercare instructions as well.

If you wish to discuss reconstruction options, call  Lorraine Golosow, MD  and her team today to book a consultation.

“Dr. Golosow is one of the kindest, most professional doctors I have ever seen. She made me feel so comfortable before, during and after my procedures. Thank you”