When you're being treated for breast cancer, a lumpectomy or mastectomy is usually the first step in treatment. While this surgery will change your body, there are options for restoring the shape and appearance of your breast.
If you need a mastectomy and are considering breast reconstruction, the plastic and reconstructive surgeons at University Health can help.
Our surgeons are board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and fellows of the American College of Surgeons. They are highly qualified to perform a wide range of reconstruction options using the latest techniques. They also collaborate closely with the other members of your cancer treatment team, including your oncologist and breast cancer surgeon, which helps streamline your care.
What to expect if you choose breast reconstruction
Breast reconstruction can be performed or started at the same time as the mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or later on, after your incisions have healed and your breast cancer treatments are finished (delayed reconstruction).
Prior to your cancer surgery, your plastic surgeon will work with you, your breast cancer surgeon and your oncologist to make a reconstruction plan that suits your needs. A big part of this process involves taking the time to understand your goals. Our team is made up of female surgeons who can truly empathize with the emotional implications of breast cancer surgery and who are dedicated to helping you feel whole and restored after cancer treatment.
Breast reconstruction options
Different techniques can be used to rebuild the breast, including:
Reconstruction with silicone or saline implants. This is usually done in two stages. First, a tissue expander device is placed beneath the skin or chest muscle. Over four to six months, your surgeon will gradually fill the expander and safely stretch the skin to accommodate the breast implant. Then the expander will be replaced with the implant.
Direct-to-implant (single-stage) reconstruction is an option for some women. With this method, the implant is placed in the breast during the mastectomy surgery, so there is no need for the tissue expansion process.
Our surgeons offer the latest in implant reconstruction techniques including reconstruction after nipple-sparing mastectomy and prepectoral implant placement.
Tissue flap surgery. With this approach to reconstruction, tissue taken from the abdomen or back is used to rebuild the breast. Some women will also need a small implant along with the flap. Your surgeon will determine if you are a candidate for this type of procedure and thoroughly discuss your options.
Oncoplastic surgery. If lumpectomy is chosen as the appropriate surgical treatment of your cancer, you may be a candidate for concurrent reconstructive procedures with the goal of optimizing the postoperative appearance and symmetry of your breasts. These techniques include breast lift and breast reduction, which can be performed at the same time as your cancer surgery. These techniques typically involve rearranging your own tissue, but may occasionally include implant placement.
Symmetry procedures. When you have mastectomy or lumpectomy for treatment of cancer, this often creates an asymmetry with the other breast. We offer a number of procedures that help to achieve the closest symmetry possible. These may include implant placement, breast lift, fat grafting or breast reduction.
Other breast reconstruction procedures our surgeons perform include:
- Fat grafting. This technique uses liposuction to harvest fat cells. They are then placed below the skin of the breasts in order to improve contour and breast appearance.
- Procedures to restore the nipple and areola, if they could not be spared during the mastectomy. This may involve surgical creation of a nipple in combination with tattooing. Nipple reconstruction may also be done nonsurgically with a 3D tattoo.
After your reconstruction procedure, you will continue to meet with your plastic surgeon on a regular basis until the reconstruction is complete. Your surgeon will continue to work closely to coordinate your care with the breast cancer surgeon and oncologist to make sure your cancer treatment is always a priority.
What's right for you?
Many things factor into choosing the right method of performing breast reconstruction for you. Of course, you don't have to have breast reconstruction at all. It's up to you. If you’re considering this option, our team will recommend the right method for your reconstruction.
Another thing to consider: Federal law requires insurance plans that cover mastectomies to cover breast reconstruction too. They are also required to cover symmetry procedures on the noncancerous breast, which may include implant placement, breast lift, fat grafting or breast reduction.
Learn more about breast reconstruction surgery
To schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons or receive educational information about breast reconstructions surgery, call 816.876.2919 or complete and submit this short form.