What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction surgery is the type of surgery done on women who have had all or part of a breast removed. The surgery rebuilds the breast mound to match the size and shape of the other breast. The nipple and the darker area around the nipple (areola) can also be added.
Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy.
What you should know before undergoing breast surgery
Flap surgery includes the risk of partial or complete loss of the flap and a loss of sensation at both the donor and reconstruction site. The use of implants carries the risk of breast firmness (capsular contracture) and implant rupture. Breast implants do not impair breast health.
Careful review of scientific research conducted by independent groups such as the Institute of Medicine has found no proven link between breast implants and autoimmune or other systemic diseases.
- · A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation and feel as the breast it replaces.
- · Visible incision lines will always be present on the breast, whether from reconstruction or mastectomy.
- · Certain surgical techniques will leave incision lines at the donor site, commonly located in less exposed areas of the body such as the back, abdomen or buttocks.
If only one breast is affected, it alone may be reconstructed. In addition, a breast lift, breast reduction or breast augmentation may be recommended for the opposite breast to improve symmetry of the size and position of both breasts.Be prepared to discuss:
- · Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
- · Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- · Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- · Previous surgeries
- · The options available in breast reconstruction surgery
- · The likely outcomes of breast reconstruction and any risks or potential complications
- · The course of treatment recommended by your plastic surgeon, including procedures to achieve breast symmetry
- · Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- · Examine your breasts, and take detailed measurements of their size and shape, skin quality, and placement of nipples and areolae
- · Take photographs for your medical record
- · Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
- · Discuss likely outcomes of breast reconstruction and any risks or potential complications
Important facts about the safety and risks of breast reconstruction
The decision to have breast reconstruction surgery is extremely personal. You’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.
Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedures you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.The risks include:
- · Bleeding
- · Infections
- · Poor healing
- · Anaesthesia risks
It’s very important to address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon. It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether excitement for the anticipated outcome or preoperative stress. Discuss these feelings with your plastic surgeon.