Breast Reconstruction surgery provides new breasts to women who may have lost one or both due to cancer, other diseases or accidents. The goal of Breast Reconstruction is to restore women's self-esteem and the aesthetic appearance of breasts, without restoring the breastfeeding capability.
However, it is important to note that results obtained will look as similar as possible to natural breasts, but will not be exactly the same. Reconstructed breasts will not also have the same sensibility of natural breasts and may present visible scars. Most women who have gone through this surgery say the positive aspects of the procedure overcome the negatives.
The breast reconstruction technique depends on each patient's situation, but the most common one is called tissue expansion. It combines a gradual expansion of chest tissue with breast implants. A balloon expander is also inserted beneath the skin and inflated with injections of salt-water solution for a few weeks. When the breast area is sufficiently stretched, the expanded area is removed and replaced with a permanent implant. Another breast reconstruction technique is the flap reconstruction. Askin flap is created using some tissue taken from another part of the body, like the abdomen or back. The flap can be used to create a pocket for and an implant or to build up a breast mound. This breast reconstruction procedure allows women to have a mastectomy and breast reconstruction in one surgery, instead of multiple surgeries. The last step is the reconstruction of the nipple and areola. It can be done through several techniques.
The breast reconstruction procedure can use intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. The best anesthesia method for the breast reconstruction procedure depends on your individual case and what your doctor is recommending. You will decide together with your doctor what is best for you.
The incisions from the breast reconstruction procedure will be covered with gauze or bandages and an elastic bandage or support bra will support the reconstructed breast and minimize swelling. A small and thin tube may be placed under the skin to drain the excess blood or fluid.
The breast reconstruction procedure healing process usually takes a few weeks. The swelling will decrease over time and breast shape and position will improve. It is extremely important to continue following your plastic surgeons instructions, even after recovery, and to attend follow-up visits when needed.
Also over time, some breast sensation may return and scar lines may become more discreet. Most women that go through the breast reconstruction surgery say that the trade-offs are nothing when compared to the improvement in their quality of life. For long-term health, it is important to keep monitoring the health of the breast through self-exam, mammography and other diagnostic techniques.