Breast reconstruction rebuilds the breast for women who have gone through a mastectomy or have parts of their breast removed. It can be done immediately after a mastectomy in conjunction with a breast surgeon, or performed at a later stage.
The purpose of breast reconstruction is to help women regain their breast form and shape permanently so they don’t have to depend on external prosthesis. Not only does it restore balance to their chest so they can feel normal, but more importantly breast reconstruction restores a woman’s self-confidence.
There are various types of breast reconstruction procedures.
1. Breast Reconstruction with Implants
There are several types of implants that can be used for breast reconstruction. One can choose between silicone or saline implants, if they prefer a round or an anatomical shape, as well as the placement of the implant – above or below the muscle.
Candidates suitable for Breast Reconstruction with Implants:
- Cases where ample skin tissue is preserved
- If you would like to avoid incision on other parts of the body
- If you have completed and no longer need radiation therapy
- If you prefer a shorter recovery process
- Women who wish to restore their breast immediately after preventive mastectomy
2. Breast Reconstruction with Tissue Flaps
Reconstruction with tissue flaps uses tissues from the abdominal area or upper back to reconstruct the breast.
There are 3 main types of tissue flap reconstruction, and they can be done using 2 different techniques.
The 2 main techniques to move a tissue flap from the donor site to chest include:
1. Pedicle Flap
A pedicle flap leaves the tissue attached to its original blood supply. The flap makes its way to the chest by tunnelling under the skin.
2. Free Flap
A free flap is disconnected completely from the donor site before moving it up to the chest area. The flap tissue is then reconnected to new blood vessels and arteries through microsurgery.
Types of Tissue Flap Reconstruction
The 3 main types of tissue flap reconstruction include:
1. Transverse Rectus Abdominis Muscle Flap (TRAM)
2. Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Flap (DIEP)
3. Latissimus Dorsi Flap (LD)
3. A combination of Implants and Tissue Flaps
Sometimes a combination of both implants and tissue flaps may be recommended to get the best results. This is a great method for breast reconstruction when tissue alone cannot provide enough volume to match the other breast. The tissue flap holds and provides necessary coverage while the implant enhances the volume of the breast, creating a natural breast shape. If nipple reconstruction is required, it can be arranged at the final stage of your treatment.