Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Breast reconstruction surgery helps restore the appearance of your breasts following treatment for breast cancer – giving you back your confidence and making you feel like you again. At Aurora Clinics we have a very sensitive team of surgeons who know how to treat you with the care you deserve after such a traumatic time.
Considering Breast Reconstruction surgery?
A breast reconstruction is an operation to restore the shape of your breast following:
- A full mastectomy
- A partial mastectomy or removal of a portion of your breast
Although breast reconstructive surgery is normally performed on those who have suffered from breast cancer, it can also be performed if you have had non-cancerous conditions that have changed the shape of your breast such as burns or infections.
How will it impact your life?
Having breast reconstruction surgery has major psychological benefits as it gets rid of the feeling of a loss of femininity that is normally associated with mastectomies. This can do wonders for your self-confidence following breast cancer or any other condition that may have led to the loss of your breasts. Many of our previous patients say they feel like their natural selves again with a noticeable boost in self-esteem.
Is Breast Reconstruction surgery right for you?
There are different types of breast reconstruction surgery based on both timing and technique.
This is a reconstruction at the time of your primary surgery where the breast cancer is taken away and the breast is reconstructed.
This is a reconstruction at a later date so the breast tumour is treated initially, you wait a few months and then you have the reconstruction once everything has settled from your first operation.
Reconstruction with a breast implant
If you choose an implant reconstruction, your surgeon will insert a pre-formed silicone or saline solution breast implant that matches your desired dimensions under the skin where your breast used to be. If your skin has been pulled tight following your mastectomy, it may be necessary to use a skin expander, often called a balloon expander, to stretch the skin enough to accommodate the implant.
The expander is then filled with salt water solution over a period of time to assist in expanding the skin over your breasts gradually. Once the required size is achieved, your surgeon will reconstruct your areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) and the procedure is complete. If breast reconstruction surgery is carried out at the same time as your mastectomy, the entire process is likely to take around 2 to 3 hours. You will require a general anaesthetic and you will need to stay in hospital overnight.
The advantages of having a breast implant reconstruction include:
- It is a relatively simple procedure and can be done at either the same time as your original surgery or as a delayed reconstruction
- There is a quick recovery period
The disadvantages include:
- A breast implant is not natural body tissue. If you have suffered from breast cancer and have had radiotherapy treatment this can affect the blood supply to the breasts which means there is an increased risk of capsular contracture.
Reconstruction with your own tissue
If you prefer not to have any foreign material in your body, your surgeon will take some tissue from either your back or stomach to recreate your new breast. The most common areas used for flap reconstruction are your back (A Latissumus Dorsi Flap) and the lower part of your tummy (A TRAM or a DIEP flap). If you have a TRAM or DIEP flap you will lose the same tissue that is normally removed in a tummy tuck. DIEP flap is considered ‘gold standard’ with regards to breast reconstruction as it is one of the only techniques that uses your own tissue solely for the reconstruction and the quality of the tissue is much better for this purpose. However, due to the complexity of the procedure the total surgery time is between 6 and 8 hours.
The advantages of using your own tissue to reconstruct your breast include:
- The tissue is natural
- You will not risk the possibility of the complications that can occur after implant breast reconstruction
The disadvantages of using your own tissue to reconstruct your breast tissue include:
- The operation takes longer and you will need more time to recover
- The operation is more demanding for the surgeon and you will need to be treated by a specialist in this field
Nipple reconstruction is often considered the final phase of breast reconstruction. You would be suitable for a nipple reconstruction if during the removal of your breast cancer, your nipple and/or areola were removed.
Some people decide not to go ahead with nipple reconstruction as they feel it’s not necessary following a breast reconstruction. If you do opt for a nipple reconstruction, your surgeon is able to reconstruct this by raising some of the skin and folding it around to make a nipple. This technique is called a skate flap and can be performed under local anaesthetic. The only problem with this is that the skin is not pigmented like a normal areola would be. The next stage is to have the nipples coloured in with medical grade tattooing known as micropigmentation. This may need to be redone every couple of years to maintain the pigment.
Not everyone who has surgery for breast cancer opts to undergo a breast reconstruction. It is important to research the different types of breast reconstruction available before deciding on which one would be best for you. It is important to remember that whilst every effort is made to make your breast as life-like as possible, it will not be a perfect replica of the breast that was removed.
After your surgery and beyond…
Your recovery will depend upon which procedure you decided to have. If you have a tissue reconstruction you will probably need to spend 4-5 days in hospital following your operation. You should expect to recover fully from an implant reconstruction within 4-6 weeks.
Like any other breast surgery you must expect some change in the appearance of your breasts to develop over time following your procedure.
The next step
We always encourage people to do as much research as they can when considering cosmetic surgery, so for more information on breast reconstruction surgery: