What is breast reconstruction surgery?
Breast reconstruction is a surgical breast cancer treatment option performed by a plastic surgeon to rebuild a woman’s breast mound after partial or complete removal of breast tissue. With breast cancer reconstruction, a qualified plastic surgeon can effectively replace a breast or breasts that have been completely removed, rebuilding them to same size and shape as they previously were and, in some cases, can even recreate the nipple and areola.
Most women who undergo mastectomy are candidates for breast cancer reconstruction, but the decision to carry forward with breast reconstructive surgery is a personal one that each patient must make on their own.
Breast Cancer Reconstruction Before & After
What are my breast reconstruction options?
Your options for breast cancer reconstruction vary depending upon the stage of treatment you are in and the type of cancer being dealt with. Women who have already undergone mastectomy have fewer options but can still benefit greatly from a reconstruction surgery performed by a skilled and experienced breast cancer surgeon.
Women who require but have not yet undergone mastectomy have more reconstruction options available to them. For this reason it is important to meet with an experienced breast reconstruction specialist prior to scheduling mastectomy surgery to discuss and understand all your options while they are still open to you.
Here at the Bedford Breast Center we are fortunate to have renowned breast cancer reconstruction surgeon, Dr. Lisa Cassileth, as part of our team. A pioneer in breast reconstruction, Dr. Cassileth has developed a unique technique, called One-Stage Breast Reconstruction, in which mastectomy and reconstruction are done at the same time, sparing patients the need to undergo two separate surgeries and producing among the most superior results in breast reconstruction available.
Types of Breast Reconstruction
Traditional Breast Reconstruction
With traditional, post-surgical breast reconstruction, devices called tissue expanders are placed in the patient’s chest cavity during mastectomy surgery. These expanders serve to stretch muscles in the chest to create adequate space for breast implants to be later placed. Over the months following mastectomy, the patient must periodically visit their doctor to have the expanders incrementally filled with saline injections. Once the muscles have been stretched enough, another surgery must be performed to place the breast implants.
One-Stage Breast Reconstruction
One-Stage breast reconstruction is a unique technique developed by Bedford Breast Center’s plastic surgeon, Dr. Lisa Cassileth. Dr. Lisa Cassileth is considered among the best breast reconstruction surgeons Los Angeles has available. The One-Stage breast reconstruction is a revolutionary technique enables women to have mastectomy and reconstruction performed all in one surgery. By eliminating the need for a second surgery, One-Stage Reconstruction provides the benefit of less downtime, less pain and discomfort, faster recovery and decreased risk. Best of all, this technique does eliminates the need for women to wear tissue expanders in their chest for months and enables them to wake from mastectomy surgery with full, natural-looking intact breasts.
In addition to streamlining and simplifying the surgical process, the One-Stage Breast Reconstruction technique also produces superior cosmetic results due to the fact the surgery is performed through a small incision, rather than a large scar across the breast. The final result is beautiful, natural-looking breasts with that look great even immediately following surgery, with minimal or no scarring.
Breast Reconstruction Revision
For women that have already undergone mastectomy with poor or inadequate results, the Bedford Breast Center provides expert breast reconstruction revision surgery. With revision breast revision surgery factors such as unsightly scars, poorly placed implants and breast asymmetry can be addressed. Breast revision surgery can also be performed to address nipples or areolae in need of reconstruction.
What if I decided against breast cancer reconstruction at the time of mastectomy but have now changed my mind?
Many women are comfortable with mastectomy and decide against breast reconstruction at the time of mastectomy. If you previously have undergone mastectomy and decided against having tissue expanders placed during the surgery, you still have the option time to proceed with breast reconstruction at any in the future, however there are limitations. In such delayed reconstruction cases the nipple cannot be saved. Additionally, because all excess skin has already been removed at the time of mastectomy the scar is larger and more permanent.
Breast Reconstruction Scars
As with any surgery, breast reconstruction requires incision of the skin and incisions lead to scars. The severity and visibility of the scar depends on a number of factors ranging from personal genetics to surgical technique and surgical expertise. Experienced and skilled surgeons, such as those at the Bedford Breast Center, endeavor to make the scar as thin and small and as low down on the chest as possible. This way the scar cannot be seen when wearing a low neckline. Regardless of technique, the scars produced by reconstruction are usually clearly visible when a woman is nude. Many women use special mastectomy bras and silicone prostheses that they can put into their own bras in order look natural in clothes.
Am I candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Every woman should consider reconstruction after mastectomy. If you require or have decided to go forward with mastectomy, it is of the utmost importance that you receive a consultation with a plastic surgeon specializing in breast reconstruction at our Los Angeles medical center, so that a team can be chosen and an exact reconstructive technique agreed upon.
Today One-Stage Breast Reconstruction (reconstruction at the same time as mastectomy) is the standard of care but there are rare circumstances, such as with some cases of inflammatory breast cancer, that prevent a patient from being a candidate for One-Stage Breast Reconstruction. Other factors as, such radiation injury, may prohibit the use of implants altogether, but there are multiple alternatives available.
A consultation with one of our breast surgery specialists will help you to understand what options are best suited to you. It will enable our team to help you make a breast cancer reconstruction plan that will give you the best possible results in breast reconstruction Los Angeles has available, prior to your mastectomy procedure.