The Facts about SWIM Breast Reconstruction

Navigating breast cancer treatments and reconstructive surgery options can be overwhelming. SWIM is a revolutionary breast reconstruction procedure that does not require implants or free flaps. It stands for skin-sparing, wise pattern, internal mammary perforator—and was developed right here at the Bedford Breast Center in Beverly Hills, CA.

The SWIM technique was developed by Lisa Cassileth, MD, FACS, and Heather Halpin Richardson, MD, FACS, colleagues at Bedford Breast Center. Dr. Richardson co-developed the Goldilocks Mastectomy to provide patients with the best possible outcomes and the least amount of surgeries and downtime.

Dr. Casselith and Dr. Richardson advanced the Goldilocks Mastectomy into the SWIM technique, which preserves the nipple and uses more fat for natural-looking breasts that resemble a breast reduction.

The Bedford Breast Center is a distinguished medical center that puts patients first with breast screenings, early detection, and board-certified surgeons. Not only does Bedford Breast Center value patient health, they understand the importance of aesthetics.

Our team of dedicated surgeons helps women identify the best treatment for their needs, including the nipple-sparing SWIM reconstruction technique.

Alternatives to Traditional Mastectomy

Science and technology have advanced medicine, surgery, and healthcare so that patients have safer, more effective options than ever before—including breast reconstruction. Women can customize treatment plans to fit their needs and goals with various procedures and techniques.

A traditional mastectomy:

  • Removes the nipple and most of the breast
  • Results in large scars and a flat chest
  • Causes the chest to be concave (“dented”).

SWIM breast reconstruction is an alternative to a traditional breast reconstruction without implants that has a shorter recovery time compared to other approaches. The technique delivers successful results and leaves the breast smaller and more natural-looking with just one surgery.

What Is a Free Flap Closure?

A tissue flap procedure is one way to construct a breast after cancer surgery. Free flap is a technique that relocates tissue, fat, and skin from another body area to create a new breast.

This can be a tricky procedure because blood vessels need to be reconnected to the chest wall for the tissue to survive.

A common drawback of this technique is that blood vessels can get clogged, and the new breast tissue doesn’t work due to low or no blood supply. Other disadvantages include:

  • More surgeries and longer recovery time
  • Multiple scarring sites on the body (from the removal of tissues and relocation)
  • Muscle damage or weakness
  • Uneven shaping or distortions such as dimpling

How Does the SWIM Technique Work?

SWIM was initially developed as the Goldilocks Mastectomy, which removed unhealthy breast gland tissue while preserving healthy tissue. The result is a smaller breast with no nipple, fewer surgeries, and minimal downtime.

Dr. Richardson and Dr. Cassileth worked to further the Goldilocks technique into the SWIM technique, allowing the nipple to be preserved. The result appears to be a breast reduction instead of a complete nipple-sparing mastectomy.

The SWIM reconstruction surgery is completed in two stages. First, breast tissue is removed while preserving the skin and subcutaneous fat. Next, the extra fat is folded into stacks to create a new breast and covered with preserved skin.

Tissues, fat, or muscle are not relocated from another body area during this procedure; only the original skin and fat from the breast are used to reconstruct a smaller version.

Is the SWIM Technique Right for Me?

The SWIM technique could be an option for any patient seeking natural-looking results while avoiding implants, flap reconstruction, extensive incisions, multiple procedures, and longer recovery.

Women with larger breasts looking for natural results after a mastectomy are the best candidates for SWIM reconstruction. It can also be an option for women with health or weight issues or radiation injury because it does not carry the same risks as a traditional reconstruction procedure.

When Is SWIM Breast Reconstruction Performed?

SWIM breast reconstruction is an option for women with breast cancer who need a mastectomy. It was designed for patients with larger breasts to have the capability of maintaining natural results.

Immediately after unhealthy tissue is removed in a mastectomy, the SWIM technique reconstructs smaller breasts with nipples for a natural appearance.

Dr. Cassileth has also done revision reconstruction using the SWIM technique for women unhappy with the initial results of their reconstruction procedure.

Schedule a Consultation at Our Medical Center To Discuss All Your Options

Bedford Breast Center is a world-class medical center in Beverly Hills. Our expert doctors help patients fight breast cancer while being sensitive to patients’ aesthetic desires and preferences. We put our patients first and strive to develop treatment options so that every woman feels cared for.

Contact us or call (310) 278-8590 to schedule a consultation and learn more about breast reconstruction options that are right for you. 

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