Breast reconstruction following a mastectomy is now an integral component of the treatment process for breast cancer. For women who have had a double mastectomy, breast reconstruction can rebuild both breasts matching them as closely to the original, natural breast.
The decision to have reconstructive surgery is a turning point in the cancer journey and for many signals a new beginning.
Why Might You Need Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction is available for women who are recovering from the effects of breast cancer treatment. It can also be used following a mastectomy or lumpectomy to ensure both breasts are a similar size and shape.
Treatment for breast cancer can be quite invasive, and result in partial or full removal of the breast. Other areas of the body such as the lymph nodes in the armpit are examined to ensure all cancerous cells are removed via axillary clearance or axillary dissection. Further treatment can involve hormone therapy and radiotherapy.
What Does Breast Reconstruction Involve?
In breast reconstruction, the missing volume of breast tissue and any skin deficiency is replaced. Depending on factors including personal preferences, the type of surgery undertaken and the size and shape of the breasts, there are several different methods of reconstruction.
Oncoplastic surgery allows for the reshaping of remaining breast tissue when only a small volume of breast tissue has been removed. The indentation can be filled by injecting fat taken from the lower part of the abdomen.
Occasionally, there is enough skin laxity to allow a breast mound to be formed by inserting an implant underneath the chest wall muscle. If there is not enough skin, it may also be possible to stretch it over approximately three months by using a tissue expander placed underneath the chest wall muscle. The tissue expander would then be replaced by a breast implant in a second operation.
However, if you prefer not to use artificial implants, another method is to use tissue taken from your own body. The tissue is taken from the lower abdomen (TRAM or DIEP flap), buttock (SCAP flap) or inner thigh (TUG) can be used to reconstruct the breast.
The time that a breast reconstruction takes will vary dependent on the specific type of reconstructive surgery that you choose. Your surgeon will discuss your individual case and the different types of reconstruction available to you in your consultation.
"When I was ready to look at my new breast, I was emotional and so elated. The skin-saving mastectomy meant that the only scar was around the nipple area and the result was better than I had ever anticipated."
Breast Reconstruction Patient
Recovery After Treatment
Recovery time will vary dependent upon the type of reconstruction that you opt to have. This will be discussed with you at length during your journey with us.
What Are The Possible Complications Of This Surgery?
As with all surgical procedures, there can be some risks. At The McIndoe Centre, we do everything we can to minimise risk of complications. Your surgeon will talk to you about any possible specific complications before you decide to have your operation.
If you are considering breast reconstruction, please take the opportunity to discuss your wishes with one of our specialist breast reconstruction surgeons. The cost of treatment can vary, according to your chosen treatment and individual requirements.
We’d be delighted if you wanted to arrange a consultation with us. Please call the Helpline on 01342 488054 for free and professional advice or submit a contact form here for more information.
Patient Information Hub
If you are thinking about having cosmetic surgery, here are some important questions that you should ask yourself to help you make the decision that is right for you.
- What do I want to change and why do I want to have surgery?
- Have I considered all the options?
- Can surgery give me the results I want?
- Am I expecting the surgery to change my life as well as my appearance?
- Is now the right time?
Having surgery is a big decision
Planning your long-term goals with your consultant, and researching the procedure, will reinforce whether surgery is the right option for you.Surgery is not without risk so you should be sure in your reasons for wanting to go ahead. It is important that your expectations are realistic and that the advantages to you always outweigh the risk of surgery.
Take this checklist to your consultation with the surgeon performing the procedure. Discuss each topic with your surgeon to help you make the decision that is right for you before having surgery.
Having surgery is a big decision
Think carefully before having cosmetic surgery
Never feel rushed or pressured into giving your consent. Be wary of surgeons or staff who try to convince you to go ahead. Take plenty of time to make your decision.
We strongly advise you take at least two weeks after your consultation with the surgeon performing the procedure to think things through before surgery.