- Breast cancer treatment often requires partial or total removal of one or both breasts. This surgery is called a mastectomy.
- Breast reconstruction involves reforming or reshaping one or both breasts after mastectomy to create a natural reconstruction of the breast(s). Breast reconstruction can greatly reduce the psychological impact of mastectomy.
There are two main options for breast reconstruction – placement of saline or silicone breast implants or autologous skin flap surgery that utilizes tissue from another part of the patient’s body.
When a breast is reconstructed with implants, a saline or silicone implant is inserted under the skin of the breast in place of the breast tissue that was removed. In most cases, this is a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, we place a tissue expander that gradually stretches the remaining tissue as we inject sterile saline into the expander on a weekly basis. In the second stage, we remove the expander and replace it with a permanent breast implant.
When a breast is reconstructed with a skin flap, we take tissue from another part of the body, for example, the abdomen, and use it to rebuild the breast.
If you have chosen to have breast reconstruction, you’ll need to make some important decisions – what type of surgery to have and when to have it.
What is the best breast reconstruction surgery?
The answer to this question is that it depends on multiple factors. It depends on your body, your abdomen, your breasts, your cancer type, and your cancer treatment. All of these things can change what the best breast reconstruction option is for you. That is why you need to meet with your plastic surgeon to discuss your options.
We need to take into consideration your overall health status, your smoking history, the location, severity, and type of your cancer, and your cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation therapy). You need to understand and remember that these variables can change what the best reconstructive option is for you compared to someone you know. There is no one reconstruction that is better than the other. The best breast reconstruction is highly variable. It is dependent on your factors and your variables and is unique to you. Our job as plastic surgeons is to counsel you on what the best reconstructive option is for you. Your entire healthcare team, including your general surgeon, your oncologist, your radiation oncologist, and your plastic surgeon will work toward achieving the best outcome for you.
Focus on Long-Term Outcomes
One other point I want to make about the best type of breast reconstruction is that we want to focus on what’s the best long-term outcome for you. I don’t want us to get short-sighted on what’s the fastest and easiest thing to do right now. We want to do what’s going to give you the best long-term outcome. And that may not be the easiest solution today. We want to keep everything in balance and perspective. In the end, my goal for any patient that comes in for breast reconstruction is:
#1 to give them the most beautiful reconstructed breast(s) that I can.
#2 to minimize the risk of complications during the process.
#3 to do it in the fewest number of surgeries and as fast as possible so they can get back to life.
All three of these things are important, but in the end what we want is a beautiful breast reconstruction that will last and stand the test of time. That is everything that I think about when counseling someone about their breast reconstruction options. Remember, that there is no single best reconstruction solution. It is highly dependent on what’s best for you.
More About Us
To learn more, check out our website RestorePlasticSurgery.com where you can upload your photos and concerns as a virtual consult. You can also check out our price estimator to get pricing information for all the various procedures we offer. And finally, if you’d like to have your questions answered on a future podcast or Q&A video session like this, please leave a message on our SpeakPipe. You can go to our blog page and our SpeakPipe is located there.