Breast Reconstruction: Understanding Your Options (Updated 2024)

Breast Reconstruction: Our Beverly Hills Surgeons Explain Your Options

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. With so many different kinds of breast cancer and many complex treatments and decisions to make, it can be hard to know where to begin. That’s where Bedford Breast Center can help.

With the technology, innovative practices, and renowned physicians at Bedford Breast Center, women have more options and opportunities than ever before to beat breast cancer and have natural-looking breasts. There are several options for breast cancer reconstruction that depend on the stage and type of breast cancer, as well as the individual preferences of our patients.

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.

Will Insurance Pay for Breast Reconstruction?

Women seeking to rebuild the shape of their breasts after the removal of breast tissue due to cancer are entitled to have breast reconstruction performed by a plastic surgeon. While all health insurance plans must cover the cost of reconstruction, we encourage our patients to check with their insurance provider to know exactly what their unique plan covers.

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, called direct-to-implant reconstruction. A consultation with one of our skilled, experienced breast surgeons will help you understand the options best suited to your unique situation.

Traditional Breast Reconstruction

With traditional breast reconstruction, tissue expanders are placed in the chest during mastectomy surgery. Over a period of several months, 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.

Direct-to-Implant Reconstruction

Bedford Breast Center surgeon Dr. Lisa Cassileth pioneered direct-to-implant reconstruction, also called single-stage 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.

There are many benefits to direct-to-implant reconstruction, including:

  • Less recovery and downtime
  • Minimal incisions and scarring
  • Natural-looking results
  • One-step process
  • Return to normal life faster

Direct-to-implant reconstruction works best for non-smoking women who will not require radiation treatments after surgery.

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

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.

DIEP Flap Alternatives: Goldilocks & SWIM Breast Reconstruction Techniques

DIEP Flap is a breast reconstruction option that utilizes fat, skin, and blood vessels from the lower abdomen to recreate the breast after a mastectomy. Bedford Breast Center does not perform the DIEP Flap because it involves surgery on another body area, increasing scarring and recovery time. Instead, they have pioneered two innovative methods of breast reconstruction.

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.

There are many benefits to the Goldilocks mastectomy and SWIM breast reconstruction techniques, including:

  • Performed on one or both breasts
  • Only require one surgery
  • Do not use implants
  • Quicker, more comfortable recovery than flap procedures
  • May eliminate the need for mammogram screenings

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 reconstruction 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.

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