Women who have undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy may find that their breast form is no longer what it used to be. Considering that many women define themselves by their breasts, most patients who have had breast cancer surgery undergo breast reconstruction to restore their breasts.
Breast reconstruction can help women regain their feelings of femininity and sense of psychological wholeness. By reconstructing the breasts into a more defined size and shape with breast reconstruction, Dr. Bonaldi has helped many women restore their confidence and improve their quality of life.
- Improves breast appearance after cancer surgery
- Restores a more feminine physique
- Increases confidence and body image after mastectomy
- Allows clothing and bras to fit more comfortably and correctly
It is important that a woman undergoes breast reconstruction for herself and not to fulfill someone else’s desires. A typical candidate should:
- Be able to cope with the diagnosis and treatment
- Not have any medical conditions or illnesses that may impair healing
- Have a positive outlook and realistic expectations
Before undergoing breast reconstruction, it is important that patients understand it could take several procedures to achieve optimal results. Breast reconstruction can be carried out at the same time as a mastectomy or after a patient has healed and recovered from a mastectomy and any other cancer treatments.
Breast reconstruction is performed using a general anesthetic. Dr. Bondali can help determine the procedural approach that will help you achieve your goals based on your individual needs and the condition of your breast tissue.
Tissue Expansion and Implant Insertion
This breast reconstruction technique is performed as an outpatient procedure. During the initial procedure, Dr. Bonaldi will place a tissue expander beneath the skin and chest muscle. The tissue expander has a valve that allows for it to be filled with a saltwater solution gradually over the next four to six months. This technique slowly expands the breast skin, tissue, and muscle to make room for the implant. Once the tissue is sufficiently stretched, Dr. Bonaldi performs a second surgical procedure to replace the tissue expander with a saline or silicone implant.
Flap Technique and Implant Insertion
Flap techniques are performed as an inpatient procedure with the patient being hospitalized for for two to five days. This technique involves tunneling or transferring the patient’s own donor tissue to the breast. The flap tissue can then be used to provide coverage and support for a breast implant. The TRAM flap uses muscle, fat, and skin from the abdomen that is either tunneled through the chest wall while remaining attached to the original blood supply or detached and transported to the breast. The DIEP flap transports only skin and fat from the abdomen to the breasts. The SGAP transports only skin and fat from the buttock to the breasts. The latissimus dorsi flap tunnels muscle, fat, and skin that remains attached to the original blood supply from the back to the breast.
In rare cases, a flap technique using the patient’s donor tissue from the abdomen, back, or buttock can reconstruct the entire breast mound.
Depending on the patient, recovery will vary. Typically, patients will experience some swelling and soreness after surgery. Pain medications can be used to alleviate any pain or discomfort. An elastic bandage or support bra will be used to minimize swelling and support the newly reconstructed breast(s).
Within several weeks after the procedure, the patient should be fully healed. By this time, swelling will have decreased, and patients will notice a significant improvement in the breast shape and position of the implants. Scars will continue to improve, although it is unlikely they will fade completely.
Overall, many breast reconstruction patients experience physical and emotional improvement after their recovery. They are ready to live a normal life with breasts that make them feel like a real woman again.
To learn more about breast reconstruction and your options, schedule a consultation with Dr. Bonaldi today. You can contact us by calling (775) 828-7400 or by filling out our online contact form.