Breast cancer may test your resilience, but it doesn’t define you. As you navigate the challenging path of recovery, options are available to help you restore your confidence and sense of femininity.
At Bedford Breast Center in Beverly Hills, CA, we understand the importance of finding the right breast reconstruction technique for you. This blog post will explore different options, including traditional breast reconstruction, direct-to-implant reconstruction, breast-conserving surgery, and the Goldilocks and SWIM breast reconstruction techniques. The best breast reconstruction surgeons offer a wide array of options, and understanding those will help you make an informed decision.
Who Is a Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Surgical breast reconstruction performed by a plastic surgeon is an option for women seeking to rebuild the shape of their breasts after the removal of breast tissue due to cancer. While most health insurance plans cover the cost of reconstruction, we encourage our patients to check with their insurance provider to know exactly what their unique plan covers. We believe that every woman who has undergone or is facing a mastectomy should carefully consider her breast reconstruction options.
What Reconstruction Options Are Available?
Breast reconstruction with implants can be performed in either the traditional manner, which requires a surgery subsequent to your mastectomy, or at the same time as your mastectomy in one operation. A consultation with one of our skilled, experienced breast surgeons will help you understand the options best suited to your unique situation.
Learn more about why breast reconstruction surgery requires a meticulously performed mastectomy:
Traditional Breast Reconstruction
With traditional breast reconstruction, tissue expanders are placed in the chest during mastectomy surgery. Over a period of time, the expanders are filled with saline to increase their size, gradually stretching the chest muscles and skin to create space for breast implants. Once the necessary space has been created, another surgery is performed to place the breast implants.
Bedford Breast Center surgeon Dr. Lisa Cassileth pioneered direct-to-implant reconstruction, which allows mastectomy and reconstruction to be performed in a single surgery.
With direct-to-implant reconstruction, the implants are placed during the mastectomy, allowing patients to wake up from surgery with natural-looking, reconstructed breasts. The procedure eliminates the need for a second surgery, resulting in shorter downtime, reduced pain and discomfort, faster recovery, decreased risk, and aesthetically superior results.
What If I Don’t Want Breast Implants?
Patients who don’t want or aren’t candidates for breast implants have options available to them as well.
Breast-conserving surgery encompasses different procedures that vary in the extent of tissue removal. A minimally invasive lumpectomy involves removing the tumor along with a margin of healthy tissue surrounding it. Your surgeon will provide a detailed explanation of the specific variations and their necessity based on your individual case.
Breast-conserving surgery aims to remove cancer while preserving a normal-looking breast and is a viable choice for many women with stage I or II breast cancer. In early-stage breast cancer, where the tumor is small, breast-conserving surgery has the same survival rate as a total mastectomy when radiation is added to the treatment. Breast-conserving surgery isn’t suitable for women who’ve previously undergone radiation therapy to the same breast, have multiple areas of cancer, or require extensive tissue removal.
Goldilocks and SWIM Breast Reconstruction Techniques
Goldilocks and SWIM breast reconstruction offer superior immediate outcomes without the need for multiple procedures, making them an attractive option for many patients. Patients with very large breasts tend to have the best results with these techniques.
A Goldilocks Mastectomy removes unhealthy breast gland tissue while preserving healthy fatty tissue and skin to create a smaller breast using the remaining healthy tissue. Similar in some ways to a breast reduction procedure, the Goldilocks mastectomy leaves the patient with a smaller breast instead of a complete lack of breast tissue.
SWIM Breast Reconstruction, which evolved from the Goldilocks mastectomy, also uses the remaining healthy breast tissue to create smaller, natural-looking breasts without the use of implants or artificial devices. This technique spares the nipple.
Learn more about these two techniques:
A consultation with one of our breast surgeons can help you determine whether breast-conserving surgery or a Goldilocks or SWIM breast reconstruction is suitable for you. Factors such as breast size, patient preferences, and medical history will be considered.
How Does Recovery From a Single-Stage Procedure Differ From Traditional Reconstruction?
When compared to traditional breast reconstruction, direct-to-implant reconstruction, breast-conserving surgery, Goldilocks mastectomy, and SWIM mastectomy offer:
- Shorter recovery times
- Decreased pain
- Faster returns to normal activities
Since there’s no need for tissue expanders, the discomfort and hassle associated with multiple surgeries and expander fills are avoided. And the emotional and psychological benefits of waking up from surgery with intact breasts can’t be overstated.
Regaining Your Sense of Self
Deciding how you want to approach breast reconstruction can make you feel more in control of your treatment and help you regain your confidence and sense of self.
Whether you opt for direct-to-implant reconstruction, breast-conserving surgery, or the Goldilocks or SWIM mastectomy techniques, each approach has unique benefits and considerations. Consulting with a Bedford Breast Center surgeon is the first step toward finding the best option for you.
Schedule a Consultation
If you’d like to speak with one of our breast surgeons about your reconstruction options, call our Beverly Hills, CA, office today at (310) 278-8590 or request a consultation online. We’re here to support you every step of the way and help you embrace life after breast cancer.