Those patients who have undergone prior reconstruction and are dissatisfied with the outcome may also be candidates for breast reconstruction.
Dr Dower has received specialist fellowship training in breast reconstruction, spending 12 months at St Thomas’ hospital in London as a microvascular fellow performing DIEP and other flap techniques for breast reconstruction. He also completed an observorship at the prestigious Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, one of the busiest implant breast reconstruction units in the world.
Breast reconstruction is a procedure that can be performed using many variations and specialized techniques:
Reconstruction may be done at the time of your mastectomy, or may be delayed until the time is right for your specific case, or until you feel ready.
This may be through the use of a ‘flap’ of your own tissue (skin, fat and muscle), or with the use of a tissue expander and breast implant or a combination of both. Options for own tissue reconstruction include a DIEP flap, using the part of the abdomen that is discarded after a tummy tuck procedure, or in patients who have insufficient abdominal tissue, the inside thigh (TUG or PAP flaps) or the buttock (SGAP flap) is used.
The use of tissue substitutes (Acellular dermal matrices) or fat grafting may be recommended to refine your outcome, if you lack tissue to cover an implant or require additional support for the implant.
If only one breast is reconstructed, you may benefit from a breast augmentation, breast lift or reduction to achieve symmetry between your natural breast and the breast that is reconstructed.
Reconstruction of your nipple and areola are performed after your reconstruction. Through minor outpatient procedures, tissue grafts, injections and/or tattooing techniques may be combined to restore a natural size, shape, projection and color to the new nipple areola complex.
Breast Reconstruction Can:
Maintain a natural appearing breast despite mastectomy when done as an immediate reconstruction
Restore a natural look and feel to breasts removed due to cancer or damaged by radiation or injury.
Enhance confidence in your appearance, your body, and your self esteem
Breast reconstruction is an in-patient procedure, under general anesthesia. One or more nights in the hospital will be recommended depending on the timing, technique and your overall health. In general, implant reconstruction is a 2-4 hour procedure with a 1-2 day in-hospital stay and own tissue (flap) reconstruction is a 6-8 hour procedure with a 5 day in-hospital stay.
Recovery from breast reconstruction depends on the techniques used. You can generally return to normal daily activities within 2 weeks and your regular routine within 4 weeks. Results can be long-term, but weight loss/gain, implant changes, or natural aging may alter your appearance.