Breast Reconstruction Overview
After a breast cancer patient successfully completes their cancer treatment, including breast removal surgery, breast reconstruction plastic surgery can be performed to restore the patient's physical appearance. Breast reconstruction can be an important part of a woman's cancer recovery process. At Dr. Robert J Paresi, Jr. MD in Chicago, plastic surgeon Dr. Paresi tailors each patient's breast reconstruction procedure to help them recover after their mastectomy. Many women come in for an initial consultation with Dr. Paresi after their breast cancer diagnosis to help them determine their treatment plan and when they want to have their breast reconstruction after their breast cancer treatment. Dr. Paresi can work with the patient's cancer treatment team to seamlessly help every patient survive cancer and then regain their appearance and confidence.
Things to Consider
During your first consultation to discuss reconstruction surgery, it is important to disclose where you are in the treatment process and which cancer surgeon is treating you, as well as provide any necessary pathology reports. The reconstruction process may take place in multiple steps if the breast tissue needs to be stretched to make room for implants. This discovery phase will help guide the reconstruction process so patients end up with a new breast that is the size, shape and look they want.
Breast Reconstruction Reviews
"exceptional - He is a very caring and a very attentive doctor. During my cancer treatment and reconstructive procedures he was the one doctor that seemed to really care about my health and well being. He listened to ALL my concerns. I would highly recommend Dr. Paresi."- Anonymous / Vitals / Mar 10, 2012
"Breast Reconstruction - My experience with Dr. Paresi for reconstruction after bilateral mastectomies for cancer was the best it could possibly have been under the circumstances. Dr. Paresi was so sensitive to my needs, attentive, took so much time in explaining every step of the process, and ultimately left decision-making to me after giving me full information. I never felt rushed and my outcome was absolute perfection. He is a perfectionist, is extremely knowledgable, and he and his staff made this long process an extremely enjoyable experience. Would highly recommend Dr. Paresi and his amazing staff."- Anonymous / Vitals / Feb 05, 2015
"Receiving the news that I had breast cancer was quite shocking and I'm not sure it has sunk in yet. But, the treatment i have received from Dr. Paresi and his staff has been remarkably good. Dr. Paresi made a good choice in placing an expander on the right side as cancer was found in one lymph node and it wasn't determined during surgery if I would need chemo or radiation. They have gone above and beyond what I could have even imagined and made me feel like their only patient and only priority. During this journey I decided to use laughter as my coping mechanism and we have had some good laughs. I actually feel like part of the plastics dept family. I am very very pleased with the outcome of my breast reconstruction surgery and would highly recommend Dr. Paresi to anyone going through the same struggle or for whatever else their needs may be!!"- Anonymous / RateMDs / Feb 03, 2015
Breast Reconstruction Surgical Technique
Each reconstruction technique will be tailored according to the patient’s physical health, aesthetic goals, and personal preferences. There are many factors playing into the approach that will be taken. The ultimate goal is to ensure the patient is healthy and happy with their final breast results.
There are two primary categories of breast reconstruction techniques:
- Procedures that involve using a breast implant
- Procedures that are autologous (use the patient’s own body’s tissue to reconstruct and recreate the breast)
Reconstruction With Implants
Breast reconstruction using silicone or saline implants is a common approach that generally starts with the use of a tissue expander to help form a suitable pocket for an implant. The expander may be inserted after the mastectomy procedure or during the same operative session. Over the course of several months, the expander will slowly be enlarged using a sterile solution injected through a port residing under the skin. During the scheduled reconstruction surgery, the expanders are removed and replaced with permanent implants.
If there is limited tissue inside the breast, or limited skin on the outside, tissue may be used from another part of the patient’s body to supplement this loss. The most common areas to support this process are the buttocks, thigh or abdomen. This is an autologous approach to breast reconstruction. The TRAM flap (Transverse Rectus Abdominus Myocutaneous), the DIEP flap and SIEA flap techniques involve taking skin and fat from the abdomen and relocating it to the breast. The Latissimus Dorsi Flap is another common method using tissue from the patient’s back.
During a mastectomy, the nipple and areola often cannot be saved. The loss of one’s nipple and areola can be as unnerving as the removal of the breast itself. However, reconstruction techniques have advanced greatly, allowing plastic surgeons the opportunity to recreate these areas of the breast to give a natural, aesthetically appealing appearance. In a separate procedure, the nipple is created using existing breast skin or from the abdominal or latissimus flap. Using a tattoo technique, the areola is recreated with a skin graft taken from the thigh, abdomen or back.
Breast Reconstruction During/After Surgery
Breast reconstruction surgery is performed under general anesthesia at an accredited surgical facility. Some patients may be required to stay in the hospital to be monitored for complications. Patients who have had reconstruction using a flap technique will usually be required to stay in the hospital for 2-5 days. The recovery process can be somewhat lengthy, but many view it as the final step in their cancer journey thus the experience can be very rewarding. Most women are thankful to have had the opportunity to restore their breasts and are satisfied with their results.
Plan Your Procedure
Breast Reconstruction FAQs
This is a very specialized surgery that requires extensive knowledge, skill and experience. It is very important to research and find a qualified and reputable plastic surgeon who has experience with breast reconstruction surgery.
Can I Delay This Surgery?
In many situations, it is recommended to start the reconstruction process at the same time as the mastectomy. Therefore, it is a good idea to have your breast cancer surgeon and your plastic surgeon begin communicating about the steps that will follow. An advantage of doing the procedure immediately is waking up from your mastectomy surgery with the reconstruction process in place. The soft tissue that surrounds the breast will heal simultaneously with the reconstruction, which can enhance the final results.
A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation as the breast did before the mastectomy. However, over time, some of this sensation will return to normal. This will depend on the extent of the reconstruction process and will vary by patient.