Understanding Your Options After A Mastectomy
Undergoing a mastectomy as a result of breast cancer or other illness or injury can be a traumatic experience for many women. Fortunately, you may undergo a breast reconstruction, breast augmentation, or breast lift procedure to recover the natural look of healthy breasts following your mastectomy.
At Glamour Plastic Surgery and Med Spa, Dr. Olga Bachilo, an experienced, licensed plastic surgeon, will work closely with your oncologist and the surgeon who performs your mastectomy in order to ensure the best outcome for you. In many cases, breast reconstruction surgery may be performed at the same time as the mastectomy so you wake up from your procedure with new breasts.
The goal of breast reconstruction is to restore the appearance and function of your natural breasts to the greatest degree possible. There are several different options for patients seeking breast reconstruction, and various techniques that may be performed, depending on your condition, your preferences, and Dr. Bachilo’s assessment. She will explain the different surgical options with you and discuss which technique may be most suitable for you.
There are two primary approaches to breast reconstruction:
- Reconstruction with Implants: An implant reconstruction procedure works similarly to a normal breast augmentation procedure. An implant, filled with either saline or silicone, is inserted either behind the breast muscle or on top of it to restore the breast’s natural size and shape. You may choose to augment your natural breast size during this procedure if you so choose, by simply selecting implants that will give you larger breasts than you had before your mastectomy.
- Autologous or “flap” reconstruction: Flap reconstruction is performed using tissue that is transplanted from another area of your body, such as your belly, thigh, or back. Autologous reconstruction may also be performed in combination with implants.
While each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, Dr. Bachilo will help you determine which approach is right for you. While implant reconstruction is a less complex surgery, with an easier recovery, there may be more problems associated with implant surgery down the road. Implants may shift or move, or other problems such as capsular contracture may occur. Still, implants provide the most versatile option, as you can always decide to switch out your implants for a different set of implants in the future.
Flap surgery, by comparison, is a more complicated and time-consuming procedure that requires greater skill and precision on the part of the surgeon, as well as a longer recovery period. The advantage of a flap surgery is that it is a more permanent procedure, typically present little to no problems over the long-term. Another advantage of autologous reconstruction surgery is that the surgeon may use a technique known as resensation, which reconnects the nerves in the chest to the nerves in the breast tissue, allowing them the opportunity to regenerate. Over time, this procedure can help women who have lost sensation in the breast recover sensation, which also contributes to a better quality of life and improved intimate relationships.
Depending on how your mastectomy was performed, you may require nipple reconstruction. In some cases, a nipple-sparing mastectomy may have been performed, which means that the patient’s own nipple, areola, and surrounding breast skin are preserved. In others, the nipple has been removed and must be reconstructed. Dr. Bachilo uses various techniques to achieve natural-looking reconstruction of the nipples for patients who have undergone radical mastectomies. Dr. Bachilo will also use resensation techniques whenever possible to ensure that patients recover natural sensation in the nipple and areola over time following their surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are undergoing treatments for your illness, or are planning to undergo a mastectomy, contact our office today to discuss the possibility of breast reconstruction following your mastectomy with Dr. Bachilo. Similarly, if you’ve had a mastectomy to treat breast cancer in the past and are now ready to undergo breast reconstruction, Dr. Bachilo can provide the sensitivity and gentle bedside manner, coupled with the extensive experience and expertise in breast and body procedures that you seek in a cosmetic surgeon. Putting yourself in the care of Dr. Bachilo means putting yourself in the best possible hands.