About Breast Reconstruction
Plastic surgery options after cancer treatment have come such a long way in the past two decades. Now, most women have the chance to meet with a plastic surgeon prior to breast cancer surgery, and the majority choose to have some form of reconstructive surgery after treatment to look and feel normal again. Many scientific studies have supported the strong emotional benefits and high satisfaction rate of breast reconstruction. At WESTMED Group in Westchester County, NY, board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Suzman, has the privilege of being a part of a state-of-the-art breast cancer care center, as well as offering his patients more than 15 years of breast reconstruction experience.
A meeting with a plastic surgeon is the best way to find out the optimal breast reconstructure procedure for you. Results can be natural-looking, and quite beautiful, even with scars or shape differences, which may be visible upon close inspection. Breast reconstruction typically involves multiple surgeries. Dr. Suzman will be sure to spend as much time as needed to help each patient select the optimal procedure. He specializes in a range of breast reconstruction options, including:
- DIEP Flap and Free TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction
The deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP) flap and the free transverse rectus abdominis (TRAM) breast reconstructions are both muscle-sparring surgeries most commonly used to recreate the breasts. The DIEP and Free Tram breast reconstructions take blood vessels, fat, and skin from the abdomen.
- TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction
A transverse rectus abdominis (TRAM) flap uses a section of the muscle, skin, fat and blood vessels in your lower abdomen to recreate the breasts.
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap Breast Reconstruction
When a patient is not a candidate for the DIEP or TRAM flap because there is not enough tissue to harvest, Dr. Suzman may consider the latissimus dorsi flap breast reconstruction. Skin, fat, and blood vessels are collected from the back (under the shoulder) to rebuild the breasts.
- Tissue Expander Technique
In an immediate (at the time of the mastectomy) or a delayed breast reconstruction, a tissue expander can be inserted into the chest to widen the area where a breast implant can be placed. The patient will have incremental follow-up visits to have saline solution injected into the expander.
- Nipple-sparing Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction
When there is no cancer within the tissues of the nipple or areola complex, a general surgeon may perform a nipple-sparring mastectomy. This means that the patient will not lose her nipples or areola in the mastectomy and will be repositioned in the breast reconstruction. Patients who have a full mastectomy lose their own nipples, which have to be recreated in a separate surgery.
- BRCA Prophylactic Mastectomy Reconstruction
Women who test positive for the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutations have a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancers. A bilateral mastectomy may be performed by a general breast surgeon. Dr. Suzman can perform a breast reconstruction alongside the mastectomy. He also can perform breast reconstruction on women who only had the preventative mastectomy in the past.
After a lumpectomy to remove breast cancer or other growths within the breast, a general surgeon may take a large section of the breast tissue. This can make the breast an unnatural shape or make one breast larger than the other. Dr. Suzman can create a treatment plan that will reconstruct the breast in a way for them to look more natural and symmetrical.
Breast Reconstruction Reviews
Breast reconstruction surgery is common to restore one or both breasts after:
- A mastectomy or lumpectomy
- A traumatic injury that damaged the breast tissue
- Congenital/birth defects, such as tubular or unsymmetrical breasts
- Extreme weight loss
What to Expect
There are 3 common breast reconstruction techniques:
- Transferring skin, muscle, and fat tissue from other areas to the breast
- Using a tissue expander to create space and then placing an implant
- A combination of implant and natural tissue enhancements
You may also need nipple reconstruction, breast augmentation, a breast lift, breast reduction, or a combination of these surgeries to enhance symmetry to provide the best aesthetic results. If only one breast is being reconstructed, the surgeon will try to match the reconstructed breast to your natural breast.
To create a tissue flap, Dr. Suzman will remove a section of skin, fat, and muscle from one area of the body to move it to the breast. Tissue may be taken from the abdomen, upper back, or buttocks. Surgeons may also use a tissue expander to gradually enlarge and open space for an implant. When the skin has been stretched to the needed size, the expander will be removed and replaced with either a silicone or saline implant.
The Women's Health and Cancer Act (WHCA) was signed into federal law in 1998 and requires that health insurance companies cover breast reconstruction surgery after breast cancer. For more information on this law and breast cancer, please visit www.cancer.org.
Plan Your Procedure
At WESTMED Plastic Surgery Group, we understand that losing your breasts as a result of a cancer or an accident can be emotionally difficult, scary, and result in a lowered self-esteem. Breast reconstruction surgery has has such amazing advancements in the last few years that countless women have been able to regain a normal and pleasing breast appearance, while reclaiming their confidence and self-assurance. Breast reconstruction surgery can help your overall physical and emotional recovery. Please contact our office to schedule your consultation and learn about your breast reconstruction options.