Breast Reconstruction: The Facts that You Should be Aware of

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Beauty

Since antiquity, breasts are viewed as the integral part of a beauty and feminity. But the women, who have lost one or both of their breasts due to mastectomy as a result of detection of cancer, an incomplete look without breasts may cause severe psychological pressure. In fact, a breast reconstruction surgery is viewed as providing a finishing touch to the whole process of treatment. Appearing normal and full in the post mastectomy period is important to give the patient a feel of recovery. Thus it is extremely important to undergo a breast reconstruction surgery for those who have lost their breasts due to any reason. Most of the women who have undergone breast reconstruction surgery are of the opinion, that the reconstructed breasts help them come out of the trauma of losing an essential mark of feminity, and also boost up their self-esteem and confidence. The surgery can take place along with the mastectomy itself. Though some women, who are obese, or chain smoker or have high blood pressure and are older than 60, are advised against taking up an immediate breast reconstruction surgery. As contrary to popular belief, immediate breast reconstruction does not delay or interfere with chemotherapy nor does it increases the risk of cancer recurrence. It does not also come in the way of cancer detection.

If you are considering a breast reconstruction you should know the basic facts about breast reconstruction procedures.

First of all you have to understand, what Breast reconstruction surgery actually means. The surgery involves the creation of a breast to replace the removed one. The reconstruction is performed keeping the traits and appearance of the natural breast intact as far as possible. You can choose from several types of operations to reconstruct your breast. It is possible to get a newly shaped breast with the help of a breast implant, using your own tissue flap. An implant can also be created with the combination of the two. A  section of skin, fat, and muscle is removed from the areas of your tummy, back, or other areas to make a tissue flap to be planted on the chest area. Artificial implants are made of silicon shell and saline water or silicon gel.

The most common method of breast reconstruction involves expansion of skin after the implant is inserted. Then the nipple is relocated to give the breasts the proper look.

An alternative to insert an implant is to spread a tissue flap over the area of mastectomy. The two major tissue flap surgeries are the TRAM flap using tissue from the abdominal area, and the latissimus dorsi flap, using tissue from the upper back.

In order to avoid scars, in some breast reconstruction surgery, incisions are made along the area of areola, instead of over the breast.

The One-stage immediate breast reconstruction is performed  at the same time as your mastectomy. The breast tissue is removed by the general surgeon. Next, a breast implant is placed in the area from which  the breast tissue was removed by a plastic surgeon to construct  the forms of new breasts.

The patients, whose skin and chest wall tissues are tight and flat, undergo the two-stage immediate or two-stage delayed reconstruction. In this surgery, a balloon like implanted tissue expander is inserted just below the skin and chest muscle. A salt-water solution in injected into the expander with the help of a tiny valve mechanism beneath the skin. It is done over an extended period of time. This stretches out the skin over the breast area. The expander is removed by a second operation, and at the same time a permanent saline implant is places in its place. In some cases, expanders are not removed and remains  as the permanent implant.

If you are a prospective candidate of breast reconstruction, keep the following factors in mind:

  • The implants may be damaged after a certain period, requiring you to undergo another reconstructive surgery.
  • There are other side effects of this surgery as rupture, of the implant, pain in the arms and back, capsular contracture resulting in scarring around the area of implant and eventual degradation of the looks around implanted area.

A good thing about breast reconstructive surgery is, The Womens Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, made it mandatory to cover the cost of reconstructive breast surgery for women who have undergone mastectomy by the group health plans and health insurers providing medical and surgical benefits for mastectomy.