Breast Reconstruction
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Breast Reconstruction
Breast Reconstruction


Breast reconstruction, including nipple and areola, requires several techniques in order to restore a breast to a normal size, shape, and appearance post mastectomy. Reconstruction can be performed with an implant, with your own tissue flap, or with a combination of the two.

Surgery can happen in a variety of ways. Breast reconstruction can be done at the time of the mastectomy. Once a general surgeon has removed the breast tissue a plastic surgeon on your breast team can surgically place the implant. If your skin and chest wall tissues are tight, however, you may consider a 2-stage surgical reconstruction procedure. With this option, a tissue expander is implanted under the chest muscle and through a small valve under the skin, and salt water is injected to fill the expander over a 4- to 6-month period. This slowly stretches the skin over the breast area so that a implant can be placed.

Alternatively, tissue flap procedures use tissue from other parts of the body such as the tummy, back, thighs or buttocks to reconstruct the breast. There are two common types of tissue flap procedures:

The TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) flap, which uses tissue from the lower tummy, including the skin, fat, blood vessels and muscle, all of which are moved to the chest area. This procedure also results in a tightening of the lower belly.

The latissimus dorsi flap, which uses tissue from the upper back. This flap also includes skin, fat, muscle and blood vessels. It is placed under the skin and creates a pocket for an implant which adds fullness.

These tissue flap procedures leave two scars: one where the tissue was taken and one on the reconstructed breast. Sometimes there are problems that develop where the tissue was taken, such as hernias, muscle damage or weakness. Flap procedures, like the rest of your body tissue will be affected with the gain or loss of weight, and there are no implant ruptures or replacements to worry about.

Surgery: 2 hours to remove breast tissue; 1 to 6 hours for reconstruction. Hospital stay is required.

Recovery: 2 weeks for initial recovery. Normal activities can be reinstated within 4 to 8 weeks.

Average Cost: $3,000 to $20,000

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