What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is surgery to recreate one, or both breasts after surgery to remove the breast tissue usually for cancer or cancer risk.
What to expect at your consultation
During your consultation with Dr. Som, he will discuss your overall treatment goals to help create a surgical treatment plan that is right for you. This includes a thorough discussion of your overall health status and any pre-existing health conditions, physical examination and measurements of the breast(s), and photographs for surgical planning. You then will discuss outcome expectations including size, shape, and symmetry. Surgery for breast reconstruction can sometimes be done at the same time as your mastectomy, or can be staged depending on your overall treatment plan. Either way, surgery is usually offered in the hospital setting.
Implant based reconstruction uses breast implants to help recreate the volume and shape of the breast. Often times, biologic mesh placement may help create a ‘sling’ for your implant to lay in, creating a more natural breast shape. During your consultation, Dr. Som will discuss if you are a candidate for immediate reconstruction with a permanent implant, or a tissue expander for a staged procedure. Typically, you should expect a drain in the operated breast, which is removed 1-2 weeks post operatively. The goal of the drain is to reduce fluid build-up, or seroma/hematoma of the breast.
What to expect in a staged reconstruction
Tissue expanders are implants that come with little to no saline filling placed at the time of the mastectomies. They allow for gradual filling of the implant until your goal volume is achieved. The filling is done in clinic using sterile technique and is performed on a weekly basis. Expansion begins after the surgical incisions are healed (on average 3-4 weeks post operatively). After your goal volume is reached, often times one extra filling of saline is recommended in preparation for the final implant. Tissue expander exchange for final implant is performed 6-8 weeks after completion of expansion in a same day surgery (not requiring hospitalization).
Of note, if only one breast is affected, you will have the option for reconstruction of the single sided breast, or for improved cosmetic symmetry, surgery may be offered to help shape the other breast (such as a breast lift, or augmentation).
To learn more about breast reconstruction, what procedure may be right for you, please contact Dr. Som.