Breast Reconstruction Surgery in Wilkesboro, NC
Before a mastectomy is performed, your doctor will take the time to discuss whether you would like to consider a breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction is an option for most mastectomies, although in the case of a lumpectomy, it most likely won't be necessary because most of the breast tissue will be preserved.
The procedure may be done at the same time as your mastectomy. This is referred to as an immediate breast reconstruction. It usually yields the best results, but may not be an option when the mastectomy will be followed with radiation therapy. In those cases, your doctor may pursue a delayed breast reconstruction.
There are several factors which determine what type of reconstruction options are available, or whether the treatment itself is a possibility. Some of these include:
- The stage of cancer
- Breast size
- Available tissue once the mastectomy has been performed
Types of Breast Reconstruction
With a breast reconstruction, the breast, including the nipple and areola are rebuilt using implants, donor tissue from another area of your body, or a combination of the two. When wearing a bra or swim suit, a reconstructed breast can be almost entirely unnoticeable.
If breasts are reconstructed at the same time the mastectomy is being performed, a plastic surgeon will accompany the surgeon performing the operation.
The plastic surgeon may also be on hand if breast reconstruction will be performed later on, because they will need to insert an expander which will act as a base for the new breast.
This base is a balloon-like expander that's inserted underneath the chest muscles. Over the span of about four to six months, the plastic surgeon will fill this expander with fluid. Once the space occupied by the fluid filled expander is large enough, it will be replaced by a permanent implant.
In addition to a silicon or saline filled implant, some situations may allow us to reconstruct the breast using natural muscles and tissues from other parts of your body. These areas include the lower abdomen, upper back, buttocks, or inner thigh.
If reconstruction of the nipple and areola is needed, this process will take place after the initial reconstruction whether it's done during the mastectomy or not. In some cases when the tumor is small enough, the surgeon may be able to perform a nipple-sparing mastectomy, where the nipple is left untouched and only the breast tissues beneath are removed.
After Breast Reconstruction
Following your breast reconstruction surgery, you'll spend one to six days in the hospital for recovery and monitoring. A temporary tube may be installed as well to help the site drain fluids that build up during the healing process.
Full recovery will generally take six to eight weeks. During that time, you'll probably feel fatigued , sore, and there will most likely be some bruising and swelling in the breast area.
Breast Reconstruction - Things to Know
Here is a short list of concerns to keep in mind when considering breast reconstruction:
- Implants don't last forever, and may have to be replaced every ten years
- An artificial implant can rupture
- An implant may not always match the look of your other breast
- Scar tissue around the implant may alter the breast shape once it is fully healed
- Implants make it harder to detect cancer in future mammograms
- You will most likely lose feeling in the breast, although some sensations may return with time.
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