Breast Reconstruction Surgery after Mastectomy – Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in American women and about 140,000 women are diagnosed each year with breast cancer in the United States. Many patients can be treated with breast conservation therapy which consists of a lumpectomy (removal of the cancerous tumor) and radiation therapy. In these cases, the breast is usually not significantly deformed and most of the time corrective plastic surgery is not required. Some patients, however, are better served by mastectomy. In patients who undergo mastectomy, there are a number of options available for breast reconstruction.
Dr. Neal Handel performs Breast Reconstruction Surgery at his Santa Barbara plastic surgery clinic.
In many cases, breast reconstruction can be accomplished by the use of a silicone breast implant. Sometimes, it is necessary to stretch out the soft tissues with a “tissue expander” prior to inserting the final breast implant. There are new breast implants (form stable shaped anatomical implants) that give much better results than with earlier generation devices. Breast reconstruction surgery is often performed “immediately” at the time of mastectomy. However, in patients who have not availed themselves of immediate reconstruction, delayed reconstruction can be performed months or even years after mastectomy. It is also possible to reconstruct the nipple and areola to give the final breast a very natural appearance.
Another way breast reconstruction can be performed does not rely on the use of breast implants and is called “autologous” reconstruction. When patients undergo autologous reconstruction, their own living tissues are used to reconstruct the breast. This is usually done by transferring tissue from the lower abdomen to the breast area and then shaping and molding it into the proper configuration. The reconstruction of the breast with autologous tissues is usually a more lengthy and complex surgical procedure and typically requires hospitalization. The results of autologous reconstruction, however, are generally excellent and very long lasting. One of the advantages of autologous reconstruction is that as the patient ages and gains or loses weight, the reconstruction changes in volume just like the opposite side.