A cancer diagnosis can be one of the scariest things to go through. In addition to the million thoughts that cross your mind (all of which end in a question that you can’t possibly answer), you’re probably wondering if you’re going to lose your breasts. If a mastectomy is part of your treatment plan, you’re probably overwhelmed at the thought of losing a big part of your femininity. While mourning their loss is important to your recovery, it’s important to know that you’re absolutely no less a full woman regardless of your diagnosis and treatment. But thinking about the way your body will look is an important step in your healing. Thankfully, there are many reconstruction options to consider as you focus on beating cancer. Dr. Barrett has extensive experience in both breast implants and implants after breast cancer.
What is breast reconstructive surgery?
Breast reconstruction surgery is a versatile procedure that can be customized to the needs, body shape and aesthetic goals of each patient. After a mastectomy (the removal of one or both breasts), one of the ways that the breasts can be reconstructed is through augmentation with an implant, which replaces the breast tissue that is removed during the mastectomy, restoring the shape and volume of the breast. In fact, breast implants after cancer is the most common type of breast reconstruction. It’s important to note that while breast augmentation after cancer can give you a great cosmetic result, reconstructed breasts may not have the same look or feel as your original breasts. Other options include autologous tissue transfer, which uses your natural tissue from an area of your body where there is excess fat and attaches it to your breast area to restore volume, and fat grafting combination, which also uses excess fat but involves injecting smaller amounts of tissue into more targeted, localized areas.
What is involved in breast reconstruction surgery?
Each breast reconstruction surgery option, whether it be breast implants, autologous tissue transfer or fat grafting combination involves specific steps and surgical techniques that’ll determine how your procedure is performed. Your safety, comfort and satisfaction are the top priorities, and Dr. Barrett takes significant time to walk you through your options and help you determine the most suitable method of reconstruction.
Keep in mind that reconstruction often involves two or more surgical procedures over 6 months to a year or more. Specifically, if you have tissue expanders placed during your first surgery, you can expect to have another surgery 2 to 6 months later to replace the expanders with breast implants. If you’re having breast implants after breast cancer surgery on only one breast, your breasts may not be symmetrical after surgery. In these cases, many women choose to augment their healthy breast to better match the reconstructed breast in size and shape.
Before your mastectomy, it’s smart to meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Barrett who can spend time with you to answer all your questions and come up with a surgical plan that will get you as close to the body and shape you want. It’s also important to make sure that you’re comfortable with how your surgeon communicates with you, as well as ensuring your overall level of comfort. There should be no surprises about your entire surgical; plan, and our plastic surgeon should also fully inform you about what to expect during the recovery period, including how to care for the surgical site, minimize complications and ensure optimal results and longevity.
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