Breast cancer affects more than 200,000 women each year. A good portion will opt to undergo a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast tissue. Various reconstruction surgeries are available after this procedure to help build up the shape and look of the breast.
- Step 1: Opt for tissue flap surgery. This type of complex procedure involves taking tissue from your either your stomach, back, thighs or buttocks to rebuild the breast. The surgery involves two surgical sites on the body, however, unlike implants, there is no risk of rupture.
- Step 2: Rebuild the nipple and areola. This procedure is optional and would be the final phase of reconstruction. Some newer mastectomies try to preserve the nipple and surrounding tissue, but problems may arise later. Whichever procedure you choose, you need to be 100 percent comfortable with it.
- FACT: The first silicone breast implant surgery was performed in 1963.
- Step 3: Opt for a 2-stage implant procedure if your skin is tight and the chest wall won't accommodate the implants. In this type of reconstruction, tissue expanders are placed under the skin to make room for the implants.
- TIP: Breast reconstruction restores the shape, but not the nerve sensitivity, in the breast.
- TIP: How quickly you heal may be affected by a variety of variables, including previous surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, smoking, alcohol use, diabetes, and certain medicines.
- Step 4: Select saline or silicone gel-filled implants. Saline implants are commonly used during reconstruction surgery. Although silicone is thought to hold its shape better, there has been concern about potential health problems brought on by silicone leakage, but this is largely dismissed. Again, speak to your doctor about your best option.
- Step 5: Decide whether to undergo reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy, dubbed immediate breast reconstruction, or wait to rebuild, which is known as delayed breast reconstruction. Discuss each option with your surgeon to determine what's best for you.