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Methods of Breast Reconstruction

Published on September 20, 2018

Breast reconstruction procedures are generally performed on women suffering from breast cancer and have undergone a mastectomy. Generally speaking, there are 3 categories of breast reconstruction techniques and the appropriate choice depends on several factors such as the urgency of results, the status and stage of cancer, and the preferences of the surgeon and the patient.

While your physician will guide you in selecting the right procedure that fits your specific needs, it vital to conduct your own research and understand what options are available to you.

Reconstruction Using Implants

This method requires the least amount of surgery amongst all types of reconstruction techniques. The recovery time and duration of operation are significantly shorter as compared to the other operations as well.

This method utilizes silicone or saline filled implants which are placed under the skin covering the breasts to restore their shape and size. The surgeon might also choose to use a tissue expander under the chest muscles to stretch the skin a bit to create room for the implant.

Flap or Autologous Reconstruction

Autologous reconstruction procedures makes use of fat from the patient’s own body and is transferred to the regions in and around the breasts to provide them with enhanced shape and size.

The fat is harvested from body parts with excessive fat deposits such the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. The procedure also sometimes involves tightening the muscles on the breasts to provide enhance firmness.

Combination Surgeries

Combination surgeries are used in a number of cases where the tissues and muscles on the chest are too weak for a complete and healthy recovery. Such combination techniques combine implants with tissues that form a protective layer around the implant.

Combination techniques are also used with flap reconstruction where the fat and implants are combined together to give a fuller appearance. These combination procedures are especially preferred for bilateral reconstructions where natural tissue and fat cannot compensate for enhancement of both the sides. Such procedures usually employ small tissue expanders due to the limited volume of fat.

Nipple and Areola Reconstruction

The patient can further choose to reconstruct or reposition the nipples and the areolas during the operation if a nipple-sparing mastectomy is impossible. It is usually carried out under the use of light sedatives or general anesthesia of medium strength.

The procedure involves using local breast tissues or sharing tissues from the opposing nipple. Tissue-sharing provides the best shape and helps in retaining uniformity of color. However, tissue-sharing requires adequate amounts of tissue on the opposing nipple or areola and the patient must be willing to lose some tissue from the shape of the untouched nipple.

The areola is easily reconstructed using skin grafts taken from multiple locations depending upon the color. Just like nipple reconstruction, tissue sharing can also be used for the reconstruction of the areola.

Other viable areas include the groin crease and the lower abdominal wall skin. Nipple and areola reconstruction allows for much more natural appearance and is an extremely simple procedure that can be easily combined with most types of breast reconstruction procedures.

Contact Our Office

A breast reconstruction can help women get their breasts back and restore their sense of femininity after going through a mastectomy. If you’re interested in learning more about your breast reconstruction options, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Wagner and Associates Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.