Breast reconstruction is an important option for women who have lost one or both breasts as a result of mastectomy or other cancer treatment. Breast reconstruction is also an option for those who have drastically different breast sizes due to an injury or a congenital or developmental abnormality.
- What Is the Breast Reconstruction Procedure?
Breast reconstruction recreates missing breast tissue in order to restores a symmetrical appearance to the bosom. The procedure recreates a natural-looking breast, which can include the areola and nipple area, while maintaining body proportion and complementing the patient’s body curvature.
- How Is It Done?
The most common breast reconstruction technique combines skin expansion with implant insertion, which consists of the surgeon inserting a balloon expander beneath the skin and chest muscle. The expander is then carefully injected with a sterile saline (salt water) solution through a tiny valve beneath the skin. This process can span over the course of a few weeks or months, as the skin adapts and stretches to accommodate the expander. Once the expander is filled to the size that the patient desires, it may then be left in place or replaced with a permanent breast implant. A final procedure reconstructs the breast’s nipple and areola.
- Does Breast Reconstruction Have to Include Implants?
Although many patients opt for receiving an implant or implants, breast reconstruction can be accomplished using just the patient’s own tissue. The skin flap technique creates molds a breast using tissue from other parts of the body. Skin, fat and muscle can be surgically removed from the back, abdomen or buttocks and either and reattached within the breast, or remain connected to its original blood supply and “tunneled” through the body to the chest. Tissue flap surgery is then followed by nipple and areola reconstruction.
- What Is the Recovery Process?
The recovery process varies depending on which surgery option the patient selects, and the average recovery time following the breast reconstruction procedure can take up to six weeks. Stitches are removed within a week to ten days, and a surgical drain may be left in place for a week or two in order to prevent fluid build-up in the reconstructed breast. Scars resulting from the procedure tend to gradually fade to a lighter shade over time.
Breast Reconstruction Procedure in Okatie
If you are interested in learning more about breast reconstruction or other plastic surgery options, please contact Smith Plastic Surgery at 843.705.8940 to schedule an appointment. For a map to our office, please visit here.