Breast reconstruction is one of the most rewarding surgical procedures performed by plastic surgeons. It is performed to restore a breast that has been removed because of cancer. There are several different procedures which can be used to restore a more normal appearance, approximate the size and shape of the opposite side, and more importantly allow you to maintain your self esteem.Have a Question
Am I a good candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
There are two ways that Dr. Friedlander responds to that question. The first is to address your physical needs. Are there any medical conditions or limitations which would preclude you from having reconstruction due to an increase in overall risk. The second is to address your mental needs. There are a great number of resources and support groups to help you get through this dark period in your life, and to beat the cancer. Women of any age are entitled to look and feel whole after undergoing mastectomy. Dr. Friedlander will discuss all of your risks and consider your needs and recommend the procedure which she feels is best for you.
What are the details of a Breast Reconstruction procedure?
Breast reconstruction is usually initiated at the time of mastectomy. It will involve the creation of a breast mound. This can be done with a soft tissue expander (STEP) and dermal graft, tissue obtained from your abdomen (TRAM) or a combination of your own tissue (obtained from your back) and an expander. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, which will be explained to you in detail at the time of your consultation. A soft tissue expander (STEP) is a balloon that is temporarily inserted and covered by the chest muscle (pectoralis muscle) and a dermal graft (Alloderm etc). The STEP is stretched after the surgery to create a pocket large enough to hold an appropriately sized implant. The STEP is removed at a 2nd surgery and replaced with a permanent implant that can be silicone or saline. If an operation on the opposite side is required for symmetry it can done at this time.
A reconstruction can be performed using tissue entirely from your lower abdomen at the time of mastectomy. This will require that you have enough tissue on your abdomen to make a breast large enough to match the opposite side. The nipple and areola are added at a second operation. The last option uses muscle that has been taken from the back to cover the STEP. Dr Friedlander will explain the techniques which are most appropriate based on your specific needs and situation. The risks and limitations of these procedures will be reviewed as well. There will be ample time to ask questions. Dr Friedlander’s staff will coordinate performing the reconstruction with the breast surgeon.
Breast reconstruction is covered by your insurance carrier. Symmetry procedures on the opposite side are also covered. Breast reconstruction for partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) may also be covered by insurance.
What risks are involved with Breast Reconstruction?
The general risks of any surgery are scars, bleeding, infection, altered sensibility and persistent asymmetry. With breast reconstruction, there is the added risk of flap loss and the need for multiple surgeries. Dr. Friedlander will review all of the risks with you at the time of your consultation.
How do I prepare for Breast Reconstruction surgery?
The best way to prepare for surgery is to remain mentally and physically strong. With the help of all of your physicians, you will be able to beat the disease. Women who smoke, even one cigarette, should discontinue smoking prior to reconstructive surgery. Smoking will affect the circulation of the skin and may compromise the outcome of the surgery.
What can I expect after Breast Reconstruction surgery?
Expectations and recovery are based on the surgery performed. An immediate implant reconstruction has the same recovery as the mastectomy alone. Upon awakening, you will have a completed reconstruction. A more complex reconstruction will be staged, necessitating more than one surgery and more than one recovery. The first surgery is usually the longest, and subsequent surgeries take only a short period of time to recover from. Again, Dr. Friedlander will discuss your specific needs and expectations with you.
When can I resume normal activities after Breast Reconstruction?
All women are expected to be ambulatory the day after surgery. You can return to basic activities of daily living within a day or two. There are no strenuous activities permitted for 4-8 weeks after the surgery.
Schedule a Breast Reconstruction consultation
For more details and to find out if you are a candidate for breast reconstruction please contact us to schedule a consultation at our office in New Jersey or call 973-524-7124.