Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure used to reshape the breast after a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction restores the breast to as close to its original size and shape as possible. The nipple and areola may also be reconstructed to achieve a more natural look. Breast reconstruction is a highly personal decision that should be made between a woman and her surgeon, who will help her determine the technique and timing for her reconstruction procedure.
Who is it For?
Breast reconstruction may be recommended for a woman who has recently undergone breast cancer treatment, including a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Some women also require breast construction due to tissue loss after implant placement or complications from a breast implant. Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as a mastectomy or later on, after the woman has undergone chemotherapy, radiation or other cancer treatments.
San Diego women who undergo breast reconstruction surgery should not have any other medical conditions that would impact their healing process. They should have a positive outlook about their recovery and demonstrate good coping skills with their diagnosis treatment process. Patients also need to have a realistic expectations about what the results of their breast reconstruction will look like.
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Breast Reconstruction Techniques
Dr. Kaweski performs breast reconstruction surgery using two different techniques:
TRAM (transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous) Flap
This procedure uses skin and tissue from the abdomimal region to reconstruct the breast. This technique has been used by surgeons for more than 20 years for breast reconstruction and continues to be a good option for some patients.
Latissimus Dorsi Flap (back flap)
The back flap procedure removes a portion of the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is located behind the shoulder and above the armpit. This procedure may be recommended for women with smaller breasts, and often requires a shorter recovery time than a TRAM Flap procedure.
About the Procedure
Dr. Kaweski performs breast reconstruction surgery at an area hospital near Aesthetic Arts Institute of Plastic Surgery in the San Diego area. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and usually requires a hospital stay of a few days. Patients undergoing a TRAM Flap procedure will not be able to get up and moving until the day after the procedure.
Breast reconstruction involves the placement of implants under the breast tissue that are similar in size to the patient’s original breast. Either saline or silicone implants may be used, based on the patient’s preference and doctor’s recommendation. One or both breasts may be constructed in a single procedure, depending on the needs of the patient.
After the Procedure
San Diego patients typically experience a number of days of discomfort after breast reconstruction surgery. The primary source of discomfort is typically the donor sites – the back or abdomen. Patients will remain in the hospital for a number of days after the procedure before continuing the recovery process at home. Most patients are able to return to work and regular activities within six weeks.
What about Results?
Breast reconstruction surgery offers a natural appearance under clothing and a nearly natural appearance without clothes. There is a degree of scarring after breast reconstruction surgery. Scarring at the donor sites is usually hidden under clothing and scars do fade significantly over time. Some women do experience a return of breast sensation after breast reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction is a highly personal choice that can help you cope with the physical and emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. If you are considering breast reconstruction surgery, contact Aesthetic Arts Institute of Plastic Surgery in the San Diego area at (619) 464-9876 to learn more about this procedure.