Following mastectomy, many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction to restore the form and shape of the breast(s). The decision to undergo breast reconstruction is a personal one, and can often restore a sense of well-being or wholeness to patients.

What is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is an optional surgery that can be done following mastectomy or lumpectomy to restore the look of natural looking breasts. This procedure can improve symmetry of the breasts, helping patients to feel more comfortable and confident in their body.

Ideal candidates for this procedure will be at a healthy weight, with few medical issues. A consultation with Dr. Golosow is needed to help determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure, based on the cancer therapies you have undergone and your individual anatomy.

How is it Performed?

There are a variety of techniques that can be used to perform breast reconstruction. These include using breast implants, reconstructing the breast using the patient’s own tissue, or a combination of these methods.

Breast Implants

The first step to reconstruction with breast implants includes using a tissue expander to help create an envelope for the breast implant to be placed into. This expansion process commonly takes place over 2-6 months.  Once the pocket is created a silicone or saline breast implant can be placed to help create breast mound.

FLAP Reconstruction

FLAP reconstruction includes using the patient’s own muscle, fat, and skin to create a breast mound. There are multiple different FLAP procedures; A TRAM flap uses donor muscles and tissues from the lower abdomen to reconstruct a breast. The DIEP flap or SIEA flap techniques use only skin and fat, not muscle, from the abdomen. A latissimus dorsi flap uses muscle, fat, and skin from the back that is tunneled to the breast area. Overall, the breast reconstruction technique used will be determined based on personal preference, individual anatomy, and the surgeon’s recommendation.

Recovery

Following your breast reconstruction surgery, you may have drains placed to collect any excess fluids. Compression garments will need to be worn to help reduce swelling and ensure correct healing. Soreness, swelling, and bruising may occur, which can be controlled with pain medication. It is important that you follow the post-operative instructions provided to you by Dr. Golosow. Recovery time will vary based on the extent of your surgery and your personal anatomy.

If you are interested in breast reconstruction after mastectomy in the Ft. Myers area, contact our office today! We would be happy to schedule your initial consultation, as well as answer any questions that you may have.

FAQs

How much does breast reconstruction cost after mastectomy?

The cost of your breast reconstruction surgery will depend on the techniques used during the procedure, and whether it was completed in two steps or one. Most often, since breast reconstruction is considered a medical procedure instead of cosmetic, insurance will cover it. The cost of your breast reconstruction procedure and your payment options will be gone over during a consultation.

How long does breast reconstruction take?

Breast reconstruction surgery can take anywhere from 1 to 6 hours to complete. This time will depend on the type of reconstruction being performed. For implant-based reconstruction, this time is usually shorter. However, FLAP reconstruction takes longer due to the need for multiple surgical sites and the intricacy involved. After the procedure, you can also expect a few hours in recovery to be monitored.

What are expanders for breast reconstruction?

After a mastectomy, some patients do not have enough breast tissue or skin elasticity for an implant to be placed directly. For these cases, an expander can be placed under the breast tissue to create a pocket. The expander is gradually filled over the course of several months. Once the ideal pocket size has been achieved, the expander can be removed and an implant can take its place.

How long does pain last after breast reconstruction?

Your recovery time will depend on the type of reconstruction performed, however, some degree of discomfort can be expected after your procedure. If FLAP reconstruction was performed, you can expect some discomfort in the donor site as well. The majority of discomfort and side effects will be experienced in the first week of your recovery. This can be managed with prescription pain medication and an icepack.