Breast Reconstruction Frequently Asked Questions

If you have undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy, or you are scheduled to have one in the near future, then you should be aware that there are a number of breast reconstruction options available. These procedures can restore your breasts to the size and shape they were prior to your cancer diagnosis. Here’s what you need to know before booking a consultation:

Can I have mastectomy/lumpectomy and breast reconstruction at the same time?

In many cases, yes, this is possible. This procedure is known as Immediate Breast Reconstruction, and women often prefer this option because it’s more convenient. However, some women are not good candidates for Immediate Breast Reconstruction. Your overall health, the stage of your cancer, and the amount of available tissue you have all factor into whether or not you can combine mastectomy/lumpectomy and breast reconstruction. You will need to talk to your physician to determine your options.

What types of breast reconstruction surgery are available?

The two main types of breast reconstruction surgery are implant reconstruction (where a conventional breast implant filled with gel or saline is placed into the breast pocket, restoring fullness) and autologous or “flap” reconstruction. Flap reconstruction involves removing tissue from another part of the body (usually the abdomen or thighs) and transferring it to the breast. Note that these two procedures are sometimes combined when the patient has had a lot of breast tissue removed, but this is rarely necessary.

Which is better, implant or flap breast reconstruction?

Both procedures have advantages and disadvantages, so the answer to this question will depend on your personal needs and preferences. Flap breast reconstruction produces the most natural looking and feeling results, but it’s a larger operation. Because it involves two areas of the body rather than just one, flap reconstruction requires a longer hospital stay and the initial recovery period is longer. You will be in the hospital for three to four days rather than the one day needed for implant reconstruction. You will then spend four weeks recovering, as compared to one to two weeks. There is also the potential for more scarring with this procedure.

Implant surgery is easier to perform than flap reconstruction, but most patients report that even gel implants don’t feel exactly like natural breast tissue (though they are a close match). Likewise, while the initial healing period is shorter after implant surgery, you may need revision surgery later in life if you choose this option. While modern gel implants are fairly robust, there is a possibility of rupture after five to ten years. Finally, many women need to have tissue expansion performed before their implant can be placed. This is a time-consuming process that takes place over multiple (outpatient) appointments: First, a surgeon will place a specialized tissue expander implant into the breast cavity (usually immediately after mastectomy or lumpectomy). Then the patient will return 3-4 weeks later and have a bit more saline added to the expander implant. This action will be repeated weekly as needed, until the breast is ready for the insertion of the final (gel or saline) implant.

Is breast reconstruction medically necessary?

No, this procedure is purely elective, so if you don’t want to go through another surgery, don’t feel like you must. However, most women find that they benefit psychologically from having breast reconstruction surgery. Not only can breast reconstruction help a woman feel more confident and feminine, it erases visual reminders of her cancer experience. Women who opt for breast reconstruction may therefore be better able to put cancer in the past and move on with their lives.

Can I have my nipples reconstructed, too?

Yes. You should be aware, however, that nipple reconstruction is usually done as a second procedure (if the patient’s original nipple cannot be preserved during mastectomy/lumpectomy). You will therefore have to wait between two to three months before having your nipple reconstructed. Nipple reconstruction is done using a portion of the flap tissue, with coloration added via tattooing. It’s a minor procedure that can often be done in-office.

Do I need to do anything special to prepare for breast reconstruction surgery?

You will usually need to have a thorough medical checkup, including blood work and possibly an assessment of the health of your heart and lungs. You will also need to arrange for help at home. You will not be able to walk normally or drive immediately after surgery, so arranging to have someone stay with you to assist with normal everyday tasks is strongly recommended. Plan to take at least two to four weeks off work.

If you have any further questions about breast reconstruction surgery or you’re interested in booking a consultation, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help guide you on your path to total wellness.

Will You Be Mine? Top Reasons to Say Yes to Breast Surgery This Valentine’s Day

The love month is not just for couples. Whether you’re single or in a happy long distance relationship, you can still celebrate the day of hearts with something special.

That said, if you don’t have any plans this Valentine’s Day, may we suggest a cosmetic procedure that can help increase your love for yourself, and that is no other than breast enhancement surgery.

People enhance their breasts for a myriad of reasons. Some choose to get breast implants because they want to improve the proportion of their body. Others choose to reduce their breast size surgically so they can try high-intensity sports or to feel comfortable. Whatever the reason is, many breast surgery patients enjoy one common benefit, and that is they love their bodies more.

A Few Reasons for Breast Surgery

If you are hesitant to try breast surgery, here are additional reasons to consider this life-enhancing procedure:

Increased Confidence

When you know you look good, you can’t help but change the way you feel for the better. Confidence can take you to many places. If you’re confident, you won’t shy away from putting yourself “out there”.

Male breast reduction surgery can help sculpt the upper body in men to make them look a bit more masculine. An enhanced appearance can give a guy the confidence to go out there and perhaps meet a special someone.

Help Reach Weight Loss Goals

Breast surgery can help you reach your goals in round about ways. For instance, if you’re unmotivated to go to the gym because it’s uncomfortable to exercise with overly large breasts, then a breast reduction surgery may be just the ticket to fix this issue, and get you going to the gym.

Prepare for Beach Season

Bikinis, tankinis and one-pieces all look great on a woman who feels great about herself. You don’t have to be 100% ‘bikini ready’ to be 100% confident in yourself. If you feel that a breast augmentation surgery, a breast lift, can put you over the edge and make this summer something special, then why not take the plunge on surgery and then buy yourself a plunging one-piece?

If you’re looking to show off a new you this summer, the best time to schedule a procedure is now. It takes about three to six weeks to recover fully from a breast surgery. Plus, the weather is still cool at this time of the year, so recovery will be more comfortable than if you schedule a surgery in the warmer months.

Schedule a consultation at Plastic Surgery Services of Fredericksburg today to learn other ways how breast surgery can increase your love for your body.