Breast Reconstruction Surgery Options
In the battle against breast cancer, many decisions need to be made. The big decision, whether to have a mastectomy, doesn’t end there. If you are having surgery, will it be total or partial? Are you going to have Breast Reconstruction surgery? If so, will it be immediate or delayed?
We asked Dr. William Wittenborn, plastic surgeon, and breast reconstruction specialist, to explain the breast reconstruction options to help you make an informed decision.
Partial and Total Mastectomies
During your treatment and testing, your physician will typically determine the appropriate type of mastectomy you will need. This includes a partial or a total mastectomy. Partial removes only a portion of the breast and, Total removes the majority, or entirety, of the breast.
The decision to have breast reconstruction is a personal one, and those affected can explore the various options available. If you decide that breast reconstruction is the correct choice for you, your next decision is whether you have delayed or immediate reconstruction.
Immediate reconstruction is initiated at the same time as the cancer-treating surgery. This produces a quicker return to restored physical appearance, improved psychological coping, and technical ease of reconstruction for the surgeon. While outcomes vary, the aesthetics are most predictable when reconstruction is initiated immediately
Delayed reconstruction is when there is no reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy. There are a few factors to consider when deciding to have delayed reconstruction. Firstly, if you are going to need to have radiation therapy or are diagnosed with a highly aggressive cancer. Secondly, if you have not decided how or if you will move forward with breast reconstruction surgery. Thirdly, if your physician determines that you have a medical condition that prohibits immediate reconstruction.
Implant-based reconstructions, in general, have less recovery time because all the surgery is confined to the same mastectomy site. Although, breast implants placed after radiation can increase the chances of complications, and the risks and benefits need to be assessed.
The patient’s tissue, or Autologous tissue, can be used to recreate the breast after a mastectomy. Fat can also be transferred to breast irregularities caused by lumpectomy and radiation. This involves transferring tissue from the abdomen or the back. This ultimately results in additional scars and healing areas. In the end, the final decision is based on patient desires, breast cancer treatment plans, and available donor sites.
Oncoplastic reconstruction is when breast reductions or breast lifts are performed at the time of the cancer excision to reshape the breast before radiation.
Whether you are having a partial or total mastectomy, you have options on your reconstruction plan. The advances in plastic surgery have come a long way.
If this is a situation you are facing, consult your surgeon to formulate a plan moving forward.