Breast reconstruction surgery can help restore the look and feel of your natural breast after mastectomy. The information here is designed to introduce you to options that you may wish to consider as you make this very personal decision.
If you’re facing the loss of a breast, you should know that great strides have been made in the field of breast reconstruction with implants or using your own tissue.
Today, you have many options that can restore your aesthetic breast shape and also feel soft and comfortable.
Breast reconstruction surgery can take place over a relatively short period of time, typically between 3 and 6 months. Depending on your situation, your surgeon might suggest immediate reconstruction. Breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy or delayed reconstruction.
The typical stages of breast reconstruction are insertion of tissue expander, insertion of implant, and Nipple and areola reconstruction.
A tissue expander is a balloon-like device made from elastic silicone rubber. Either immediately following mastectomy or at a later date, the expander is placed beneath the skin and chest muscle.
Over time, sterile saline fluid is added in order to slowly stretch the skin, so that it will eventually fit an implant.
After the expander is removed, your surgeon will insert a breast implant. The collection offers a variety of silicone gel-filled or saline-filled breast implants that complement the existing expander.
Reconstruction of the nipple and areola is usually performed as a separate surgery.
In general, you can expect to leave the hospital about 24-48 hours after your surgery. Most reconstructions require a surgical drain to remove excess fluids from the area that was operated upon. These are typically removed within the first week or two after surgery. Most stitches are removed in a week to 10 days.4
While reconstructive surgery can’t restore normal sensation lost during mastectomy, some feeling may return over time. And, while surgery will leave some scars, most will fade considerably in the 1 to 2 years following your surgery.
In most cases, health insurance policies that cover medically necessary mastectomies will cover most or all of the cost of reconstructive breast surgery. However, you should check with your insurance provider to make sure you’re covered and whether or not there are restrictions.
Breast reconstruction is an option available for most women who are being treated for breast cancer. There are many different resources available for women to learn about breast reconstruction.
Please feel free to talk openly about your options at the time of diagnosis. Before making any decisions, you should discuss the different reconstruction options with your oncologist and surgeon. You may also consider talking to your family and friends for additional support.