Breast reconstruction is an important step in restoring a woman’s appearance and self-confidence after undergoing a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. If you are facing the possibility of a mastectomy, contact Glamour Plastic Surgery and Med Spa to schedule an appointment with Dr. Olga Bachilo, a leading plastic surgeon in the area of breast reconstruction in the Houston area.
Breast Reconstruction After Cancer in Houston, TX
Breast Reconstruction Goals
Breast reconstruction surgery specifically aims to restore natural-looking breasts in patients who have had one or two breasts removed as a result of cancer or another illness. The goal of the procedure is to restore the breast tissue so that it resembles the patient’s natural bust line. Breast reconstruction surgery can significantly improve a woman’s physical appearance as well as her self-confidence and quality of life. But it is important to maintain realistic expectations, because your reconstructed breasts may not actually look and feel identical to your natural breasts, and in many patients, the reconstructed breast may experience decreased sensitivity or sensation.
Planning for Breast Reconstruction Surgery
The best time to begin planning for your reconstruction is as soon as you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. It is important for your surgical oncologist to work closely with your plastic surgeon in order to develop an ideal treatment plan for you.
Most mastectomy patients are good candidates for reconstruction, and many actually opt to have the reconstruction surgery during the same surgical appointment as the mastectomy. It is important, however, to determine whether all traces of cancer have been eliminated by the mastectomy.
Some women instead choose to wait and undergo reconstructive surgery at a later date. There may be many reasons for this, including health conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, or smoking, or simply because the reconstruction may involve a complex series of procedures.
Breast reconstruction often involves multiple surgical procedures. The first surgery is usually the most complex or comprehensive procedure, whether it is performed on the same day with the mastectomy or at a later date. Follow-up procedures may be less complex. Each reconstruction treatment is unique and tailored specifically to each patient’s unique condition.
Options for Breast Reconstruction
There are several options available when performing breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction may be performed either using the skin expansion technique, or by means of flap reconstruction, and may require the insertion of a silicone or saline implant or a natural transfer of fat from your own body. Most reconstruction procedures combine skin expansion with insertion of a breast implant. Dr. Bachilo will be happy to discuss these options with you to determine which one is most suitable for you.
Recovery After Breast Reconstruction
Depending on the extent and complexity of your procedure, you will typically be discharged from the hospital within two to five days following surgery. Plan to have someone drive you home and provide assistance around the house for a few days while you recover. It is normal for you to feel tired and sore for a week or two after undergoing breast reconstruction surgery, and Dr. Bachilo will prescribe appropriate medication to alleviate any discomfort.
If surgical drains are used to help excess fluids drain more efficiently from surgical sites, these will be removed about one to two weeks after surgery, and most sutures will be removed in 7 to 10 days; however, full recovery may take as long as six weeks after a combined mastectomy and reconstruction. If your implants are inserted without the need for flaps, and your reconstruction surgery is performed separate from the mastectomy, this recovery period may be somewhat shortened, but you should still plan to allow your body sufficient time to properly rest and recover.
While breast reconstruction surgery may not be able to restore normal breast sensation, some sensation may return gradually once your body heals completely. Scars will also fade away after a year or two, becoming barely visible over time.
Dr. Bachilo will provide detailed instructions on when you can begin a gentle exercise regimen and resume your usual physical activities. Typically, we advise breast reconstruction patients to avoid activities that require lifting, as well as sex and strenuous exercise, for about three to six weeks after your procedure.
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