Breast Reconstruction Surgery After Breast Cancer

What is Breast Reconstruction?

When undergoing a treatment plan for breast cancer, the surgeon will recommend options that include breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction surgery involves one or multiple surgical procedures that restore the shape of breasts to a more normal and symmetrical shape following a lumpectomy, mastectomy or congenital deformities. Women usually go through surgery due to the effects of cancer or cancer risk. Women may choose breast reconstruction as an ultimate option to help even up their chest, regain breast shape and feel better about their body again. Taking a woman’s breasts means taking their identity as a person, and undergoing breast reconstruction means restoring to their once normal body. Breast reconstruction can happen during the mastectomy or it can be done at a later date. Even Though breast reconstruction is no match for actual breasts, it’s a close substitute to get a woman’s confidence back. 

Types of Breast Construction

Breast reconstruction can be done by these methods below:

  1. Implant based reconstruction
  2. Autologous reconstruction (using patient’s own tissue rather than implant)

There are selective options for breast reconstruction, but there is no one surgery that is the same as the other. Every breast is different and it’s the surgeon’s job to find the best method to make the most natural breast possible during the reconstructive surgery. An implant based procedure is exactly how it sounds; the surgeon will insert breast implants of your choice, saline or silicone gel, inside the breasts that need reconstruction. 

The second option is autologous or flap reconstruction. This uses tissue from another part of the body to reshape the breast tissue. Using a tissue flap is a popular choice due to the reason it lasts a lifetime for many people vs having to replace breast implants every 10 years. The tissue used is usually taken out of the belly which will help you remove fat from your abdomen area and for some that is an added bonus because it’s like having a tummy tuck. 

Benefits of Breast Reconstruction

  • Symmetry back to woman’s body
  • Restores confidence and self-esteem
  • Offers customized options
  • Self love and normalcy

When is the best time for Breast Reconstruction?

Having breast reconstruction is all up to the patient. They can have breast reconstruction at the time of a mastectomy or after. That can even be years later if they decide to reconstruct their breasts again. In our office, we suggest having the breast reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy due to the fact you are already going under surgery and you do not have to be under anesthesia and pain for multiple occasions. Either option is available for your comfort.

Can the Nipple Be Saved?

When undergoing breast cancer treatment, usually the surgeon will have no choice but to remove the breast along with the nipple during mastectomy. When it comes time for reconstruction, you will have the options to either have a nipple tattoo which new technology has allowed to have a high definition areola tattooing procedure or a areola reconstruction allows a projection of a new nipple to be reconstructed using skin grafts on top of the breast mound.

What to Expect After Your Breast Reconstruction

It’s important to know what it’s like after getting breast reconstruction and the possible side effects that may form. Usually rebuilding the breast goes great for many people, but there are always possible risks and side effects associated with getting any type of surgery. You will likely feel drowsy and tired for a week and have discomfort in your breast area as you heal. Depending on the type of surgery you have under breast reconstruction, you will be released from the medical center within the day to rest and constantly be checked by your doctor. In most cases, you will have a fluid drain attached to your body to get rid of infectious material and fluid. Your doctor will provide aftercare instructions and medications you should be taking during your healing journey.

Any type of surgery comes with its risks and for this type of surgery you will likely face side effects that may include:

  • Anesthesia issues
  • Bleeding
  • Blood Clot
  • Fluid build up
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Fatigue
  • Tissue death
  • Loss of Nipple
  • Uneven breasts
  • Weight Gain/Loss

Can Breast Cancer Return?

After mastectomy and breast reconstruction, breast cancer recurrence is possible as breast cancer can come back months or years later. Removing the cancerous area sometimes is not enough, especially with the best surgeons in the world, your body may still have cancer cells that may return and start to multiply again. Factors that include a potential return of the cancer cells include diet, cancer stage, age, and cancer type.

If cancer returns, it would be one of three diagnoses. The three are local, regional or distant. 

  • Local: Cancer returning to the same area of the original breast.
  • Regional: Cancer returning back near the area that originally formed a tumor.
  • Distant: Cancer returning back and spreading away from the original affected area. This can be inside the lungs, brain, and bones. This is often referred to as the 4th stage of breast cancer.

You should not worry about a return of the cancer, but you should find ways to prevent it by exercising and having a better diet. Research has shown an estimated 3-15% of breast cancer patients see a return of some sort of cancer after the first 10 years of original cancer removal.

Breast Cancer Doctor Beverly Hills

If you’re living in Los Angeles and are looking for a Breast Cancer Doctor then look no further. Doctor Som is a board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in multiple treatments for breasts. The Breast Center of Beverly Hills by Dr. Som is proud to provide patients with exceptional and comprehensive treatments for breast issues. To learn more about breast cancer and breast cancer services, contact our Beverly Hills, CA facility today for any questions or concerns.