The use of tissue expander and implants is the most common technique employed in breast reconstruction.
Tissue expanders are temporary implants that are inflated in the office once a week with saline (IV fluid). They are placed under the chest muscle either at the time of mastectomy (immediate breast reconstruction) or at a later date if mastectomies were done in the past (delayed breast reconstruction). The expander is partially filled with saline fluid at the time of your surgery. Most patients go home on the first or second day after surgery with oral pain medication.
Breast Reconstruction with Implants
The process of expansion begins 2 weeks after the surgery to allow for adequate healing. Expansion occurs in the office and involves injecting saline into the tissue expander every 1-2 weeks until the desired volume is achieved. This volume may be bigger, smaller or the same size as the original breast. The tissue expander is then left in place at the goal volume for 1-2 months to allow your body to get used to the stretch of the filled expander.
The expander is then removed and a permanent implant is placed. The implant can be saline or silicone depending on patient preference. The procedure is an outpatient surgery and is performed under general anesthesia.
Breast Reconstruction with Implants Additional Information
In cases when only one breast is treated for cancer and reconstructed, there may be a need to modify the opposite breast to achieve better symmetry and obtain a nice cosmetic result. If the breast without cancer is larger, a breast reduction may be used to match the new volume. If the breast is smaller, a small breast implant can add volume to match the reconstructed breast. A breast lift can also be employed to achieve better symmetry of the nipple position.
If your nipple was removed as a part of your breast cancer treatment, nipple reconstruction can be performed after the reconstruction has healed for several months. This is done as an outpatient procedure either in an operating room or in the office. After healing for several months, the reconstructed nipple can be tattooed to match the color of the opposite nipple.
- Breast reconstruction with implants should be thought of as a process rather than a procedure, as a perfect result can rarely be achieved with only one surgery.
- The process takes several months with 2-3 procedures to complete.
- Each additional stage of the process gives us an opportunity to refine the breast reconstruction and achieve a better cosmetic outcome.
For additional information, please schedule a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons. During your consultation, your concerns will be addressed and a personalized treatment plan will be formulated to give you the best possible result.
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