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Understanding Breast Reconstruction

A breast cancer diagnosis puts a lot on a woman’s plate. Not only is it necessary to grapple with the diagnosis itself but also to explore treatment options. Breast cancer treatment, as well as the recovery from treatment, can be taxing both physically and emotionally. Breast reconstruction is often the light at the end of the tunnel, a step that gives a woman the best sense of her new self after mastectomy. Though beneficial in many ways, breast reconstruction is yet another aspect of breast cancer to understand.

Understanding Why

Personal reasons for wanting breast reconstruction can vary. For the most part, the “why” of reconstruction revolves around recreating a natural appearance along the bust line. The objective of breast reconstruction from a surgical standpoint is to rebuild the breast mound and restore the breast to a more symmetrical balance. Achieving this physical goal then achieves emotional benefits such as a renewed connection to body and improved self-confidence.

Understanding How

Breast reconstruction may look slightly different for every woman. No body shape is exactly the same, nor is every mastectomy. Reconstruction is often planned with input from multiple healthcare providers, including the plastic surgeon, the oncologist, and possibly a radiologist. Recommendations for reconstruction come from consideration of factors such as:

  • The type and stage of breast cancer being treated
  • The patient’s body type and general health
  • Inclusion of additional cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation

How breast reconstruction is conducted also involves patient preference. A surgeon may rebuild the breast mound using saline or silicone breast implants or using tissue from the patient’s body.

Implant-based reconstruction may begin with tissue expansion. Tissue expanders are like deflated breast implants. They are inserted beneath the muscle when possible and are inflated a little at a time. Over several weeks, expanders gently stretch tissue so implants can be accommodated.

Tissue-based reconstruction may be preferred because it achieves the most natural look and feel. There may be limitations related to size increase using tissue along, however. This method is known as flap reconstruction and may follow one of several techniques depending on influencing factors such as the extent of tissue removal during mastectomy. Thoughtful discussion between doctor and patient helps pave the way to the best surgical outcome.

Learn more about breast reconstruction in a consultation with Dr. Ketan Patel. Contact our office for a convenient appointment.

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