Information About Breast Reconstruction


The American Cancer Society estimates that 232,340 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2013. Although many will be able to have breast conserving surgery, also known aslumpectomy, many will need or prefer amastectomy, or complete removal of the breast.

Some girls can favor to have a ablation as a result of their cancer can not be fully removed with a cutting out. Others prefer it, fearing a recurrence or hoping to avoid the weeks of radiation often required after a lumpectomy.

Additionally, hundreds of other women at very high risk of breast cancer will undergo a prophylactic mastectomy, or removal of their breasts to prevent breast cancer.

To many girls, the loss of a breast is a devastating occurrence, one that strikes at their very sense of self. They may feel less female while not a breast, find it awkward to have a missing breast or breasts under clothes, and find using a prosthesis, or rubber breast form, difficult. Thus, many ladies favor to endure breast anaplasty when ablation.

In 2012, 91,655 girls underwent some variety of breast reconstruction, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), up from 86,424 in 2009.

Overall, studies notice that breast anaplasty is underutilized, in part because many women are not made aware of all of their options by their health care providers. According to a 2009 report cited by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, despite the increase in breast reconstruction surgeries, nearly 70 percent of women who are eligible for the procedure are not well informed about their reconstructive options.

If you select to possess breast anaplasty, you have a few options: breast implants, using silicone shells filled with silicone gel or saline; a newly shaped breast constructed from your own tissue, known as a flap (a section of your own skin, fat or muscle that has been moved from another area of your body to your chest); or a combination of both. In several instances, breast reconstructive surgery can be performed immediately after mastectomy so you never wake up without a breast.

If you have got insurance, your carrier must pay for breast reconstructive surgery. The 1998 Federal Breast Reconstruction Law needs all insurance corporations to hide reconstruction of the breast on that ablation has been performed, and surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance. Beginning in 2014, it is assumed that most women will have some form of health insurance coverage as mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

If you do not have insurance, talk to your surgeon and the hospital about negotiating a discount rate. Many ar willing to try and do that for ladies while not insurance. You may also qualify for health insurance under your state’s Medicaid program or other health-coverage programs for low- and moderate-income individuals.


Regardless of why you had a ablation, the choice to endure breast anaplasty, use a breast restorative below your garments or create no changes when ablation is complicated and tough.

In making the decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How doI feel about my breasts?
  • How important are my breasts to my self image?
  • How does my partner feel about my breasts?
  • What will it be like living without one or both breasts after surgery?
  • Will I be able to exercise with a prosthesis?
  • Am I willing to undergo the surgery and recovery that is required?
  • Will the fact that I may not have much sensation in the reconstructed breast bother me and/or my partner?

It’s also a good idea to talk with other women who have had mastectomies about their choices. Breast willcer support teams or maybe your doctor’s workplace can place you in grips with different ladies.

No matter what you think you might do about breast reconstruction, it’s important to involve a plastic surgeon early on as a part of your health care team, even before the mastectomy. It’s also necessary that you just select the correct operating surgeon.

Your sawbones ought to be board certified by the yank Society of Plastic Surgeons, have privileges at a local hospital and be trained in the technique you’ve chosen.

The {plastic sawbones|cosmetic surgeon|surgeon|operating surgeon|sawbones} will work along with your breast surgeon to confirm that the extirpation is performed in such the way on give the most effective doable outcome for later breast reconstruction. Plus, your general sawbones, oncologist and plastic surgeon should make a joint decision with you on whether immediate breast reconstructive surgery is appropriate given your medical history. Keep in mind that even if you are sure you don’t want breast reconstructive surgery, you can always change your mind later—even years later—as long as you remain in good health.

Ask your breast surgeon about a skin-sparing mastectomy or a nipple-sparing mastectomy, particularly if you’re planning breast reconstructive surgery. Skin-sparing extirpation is usually performed once the breast removal and reconstruction are going to be completed throughout identical operation. In this procedure, the surgeon takes only as much skin as necessary to remove the cancer and prevent its spread, leaving as much skin as possible to provide a pouch, or covering, for future breast reconstruction. This procedure provides a far better cosmetic result once breast surgical process as a result of it permits the operating surgeon to match the colour and form of the initial breast. Your sawbones will not do a skin-sparing extirpation, however, if the neoplasm affects the skin, as with inflammatory breast cancer.

In some instances, your breast sawbones might also be able to preserve the pap and areola (the dark skin close the nipple). This may be associate degree possibility for girls with tiny to moderate breast size and World Health Organization have tumors that don’t seem to be close to the pap or areola. This option is becoming more popular, especially in women who are opting to have a prophylactic mastectomy.

Immediate vs. Delayed Breast Reconstructive Surgery

One of the first topics to discuss with your surgeon, even before your mastectomy, is whether you are a candidate for immediate breast reconstructive surgery. Immediate breast surgical process happens whereas you’re still beneath physiological condition from the extirpation, therefore you ne’er rouse while not a breast.

The alternative is that you just bear a delayed breast surgical process, which occurs after you have recovered from the mastectomy. Delayed breast surgical process is feasible even years once a extirpation, therefore if you do not need to own breast surgical process currently, it remains a chance down the road.

Studies notice that immediate breast surgical process once extirpation is safe and does not delay the beginning of therapy or have an effect on its outcome. However, it may not be an option if you have an advanced stage of cancer requiring radiation. In these circumstances it may increase the risk of post surgical complications compared to mastectomy alone.

Studies additionally notice that girls World Health Organization have immediate breast surgical process feel higher showing emotion and square measure pleased with their call.

Specifically, studies notice ladies World Health Organization have undergone immediate breast surgical process have higher self pictures and square measure less doubtless to be depressed than ladies World Health Organization selected to not have breast reconstruction.

Immediate breast reconstruction is also more cost-effective and additional convenient as a result of there is typically only one operation, one physiological condition and one hospital keep needed. It ought to be remembered that secondary revisions is also necessary supported your expectations and also the surgeon’s analysis. These are usually performed as outpatient procedures.

Additionally, some studies find that it’s easier to make the new breast look more like the old breast with immediate breast reconstructive surgery, because the skin flaps left from the mastectomy are still flexible. With delayed reconstruction, the skin tends to become stiffer due to scarring. Although delayed reconstruction may end up in an exceedingly natural breast look, it is less likely to resemble the natural breast.

Immediate breast surgical process isn’t associate degree possibility for each lady. If you have an advanced stage of cancer requiring radiation and/or high-dose radiation, some doctors prefer to wait. However, some patients and most pliable surgeons can supply immediate reconstruction even once radiation is critical. Usually this is done with prosthetic devices and sometimes with flaps. Delayed reconstruction following radiation is sort of continuously performed with a flap as a result of the skin is simply too tight to be with success reconstructed with associate degree implant.

Additionally, your own health and health habits play a role in your ability to have immediate breast reconstructive surgery. These include your weight, whether or not you smoke, if you have other diseases like diabetes or heart disease and your psychological state and willingness to invest the time required for healing.

For some ladies, the strain and trauma of getting carcinoma is all they will handle; they like to attend for breast surgical process, though they’re eligible for immediate breast reconstruction. The most important thing is to do what feels right for you—both physically and emotionally.


There are a few types of breast reconstruction available for women today: implant reconstruction, in which silicone or saline implants are inserted into the breast area; a newly shaped breast constructed from your own tissue, known as a flap (a section of your own skin, fat or muscle that has been moved from another area of your body to your chest); or a combination of both.

Which procedure is right for you depends on several factors, including your overall health and any other medical conditions, whether or not you smoke, your size, the size and shape of the other breast and your past surgical history.

Breast Reconstructive Surgery with Breast Implants

Breast surgery involves inserting a siloxane shell crammed with either siloxane gel or a salt water (saline) resolution behind the pectoral. The majority of breast reconstructions area unit performed employing a two-stage technique that has a short lived tissue expander followed by a permanent implant. Some girls area unit candidates for the one-stage technique that avoids victimisation associate expander associated goes straight to an implant.

Breast reconstruction with prosthetic devices (tissue expanders and implants) has many blessings, including a shorter surgery and quicker recuperation than tissue flap breast reconstruction. Disadvantages include a greater risk of future complications that include infection, rupture, extrusion (in which the implant comes through the skin) or capsular contracture, in which scar tissue builds up round the implant, sometimes causing pain and distortion of the tissue. However, wonderful aesthetic outcomes area unit potential victimisation implants and occur within the majority of ladies.

Similar to alternative medical devices, breast implants—saline or silicone—are not lifetime devices. It is likely, that at some point in your lifetime they may need to be removed or replaced. In early 2011, the FDA released a safety report that said breast implants of any type may pose a very small risk of an extremely rare and treatable type of cancer. The cancer, anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL), involves the immune system and is speculated to occur in about one out of 500,000 women. It is not carcinoma, but in the cases linked to implants, the lymphoma grew in the scar tissue surrounding the implant. Symptoms could embody lumps, pain, asymmetry of the breasts, fluid buildup or swelling after healing from the implant surgery. Removing the implant and connective tissue typically gets eliminate the sickness.

Because the chance is incredibly tiny, the authority failed to order removal of implants from the market. Instead, the agency encourages girls considering implants to debate the data with their doctors. The FDA is currently gathering more information on ALCL in women with breast implants and asking all health care providers to report all confirmed cases of ALCL in women with breast implants through their MedWatch Program.

You should talk to your surgeon about subsequent surgeries or complications prior to surgery. Also, check with your insurance company to see if it covers subsequent surgeries.

The decision concerning one- or two-stage reconstruction is formed by the patient and MD. The two-stage operation can rely on what proportion skin is left within the breast space when extirpation. The first stage involves putting a balloon-like tissue expander below the skin within the breast space, then adding saline weekly roughly for a month to many months to stretch the skin. This isn’t painful but may be uncomfortable.

Your surgeon may discuss with you the use of new biologic materials known as acellular dermal matrices to assist with the prosthetic reconstruction. These materials area unit ordinarily used and improve the form and contour of the reconstructed breast, and they may also be used in nipple reconstruction.

After the skin is stretched enough, the expander is removed and the permanent breast implant is inserted in a second surgery, usually in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia. In some instances, however, the expander may be left in situ because the permanent implant though this can be not sometimes counseled. The advantage of a permanent implant is that the position, contour and symmetry of the breast is sometimes improved.

When surgery with associate implant is barely performed on one breast, the distinction between the new and recent breast is also quite noticeable. In several cases, surgeons may recommend breast implant surgery on the unaffected breast as well to achieve a similar, balanced look. Even though this procedure is taken into account cosmetic, it’s lined by insurance below the 1998 Federal Breast Reconstruction Law.

If you choose breast implants, you need to decide whether you want a silicone gel-filled implant or a saline implant. Most women nowadays can opt for a siloxane gel–filled implant as a result of the breast can look and feel additional natural. You and your MD ought to work along to make a decision that implant can higher suit your wants and expectations.

In 1992, thanks to reports of leaky siloxane and potential health implications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for a voluntary moratorium (delay) on the use of silicone gel-filled breast implants until new safety information could be thoroughly reviewed by the FDA’s advisory panel. Within 3 months, the FDA allowed silicone breast implants to be used again but only for reconstructive surgery and revision (implant replacement) surgery under clinical study protocols but not for cosmetic breast augmentation.

Since then, numerous studies have been conducted on the safety of silicone gel-filled breast implants in the United States and around the world. These studies find no increased risk of autoimmune disorders (lupus and rheumatoid arthritis) or connective tissue diseases (like scleroderma) or related disorders, breast or other cancers or neurological disorders in women who use silicone gel-filled breast implants.

As a result, the FDA now allows silicone gel-filled breast implants to be used again for breast reconstruction in women of all ages and for breast augmentation in women age 22 and over.

Today’s siloxane gel-filled breast implants get pleasure from improved producing technology and additional demanding tolerance specifications, resulting in a more consistent manufacturing process that significantly reduces manufacturing errors. Major changes embody thicker shells and additional cohesive gel to scale back the chance of rupture and also the chance that gel can leak into the body if the breast implants do rupture. Questions stay, however, about silicone gel-filled breast implant rupture rates. To better perceive the long-run safety of breast implants, the authority has needed that the makers of siloxane gel-filled implants to conduct current studies to assess potential questions of safety.


Tissue Flap Breast Reconstruction

Tissue flap breast reconstruction, conjointly known as autologous reconstruction, involves taking fat, blood provide and, generally a little of muscle from alternative elements of your body to make a breast. Most flap procedures use tissue from your back or abdomen, though some use tissue from your thigh or buttocks.

While this procedure tends to supply a a lot of natural trying breast, it is much more difficult to perform than breast reconstructive surgery with breast implants and it requires a surgeon who is skilled with these methods. As with breast implants, this surgery can usually be performed immediately after mastectomy. In some cases in which radiation is necessary, your plastic surgeon may recommend placement of a tissue expander first, followed by a flap after the radiation. This is done to stop radiation changes or harm to the flap itself.

In general, girls United Nations agency smoke or United Nations agency have polygenic disease, connective tissue or blood vessel diseases are not good candidates for this procedure because these conditions can affect blood circulation. A healthy blood provide to the new breast is essential to the success of the surgery.

Also, girls United Nations agency ar overweight or United Nations agency have had previous surgery at the location from that the tissue are going to be taken might not be smart candidates. A consultation with a plastic surgeon is necessary to assess eligibility.

All flap reconstructions carry sure risks, including the loss of blood supply to the new breast, which could lead to infection and/or the loss of some or all of the breast tissue. Procedures that use abdominal muscle to create the breast carry a slight risk of abdominal hernia or bulge. A hernia is a hole or weakness in the supportive layers of the abdominal wall that allows whatever lies behind the muscle to push through. A bulge is a laxity of the abdominal wall and not a hole. Additionally, recovery from all tissue flap procedures is much more extensive than from implants, usually requiring three to four days in the hospital and several weeks of recovery at home.

Several forms of flap reconstruction could also be performed to make the breast or a pocket for associate degree implant.

  • DIEP (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator) flap procedures. This is the foremost common flap for breast reconstruction victimisation your own tissues. This procedure transfers tissue from the abdomen to the breast. However, rather than transplantation the muscle as is finished in another flap procedures, the surgeon carefully teases the blood supply away from the muscle, sparing the muscle. This is a awfully delicate procedure requiring surgical process and a specially trained physician to make sure a healthy blood provide within the new breast. It is the least disruptive of all the abdominal flaps, usually preserving full function.
  • TRAM (Transverse Rectus Abdominis Muscle) flap. This wont to be the foremost usually performed tissue flap breast reconstruction. The physician uses sections of artery and vein, as well as fat, skin and muscle from the lower abdomen, to shape a new breast. An added bonus is that you get a tummy tuck. This procedure takes about three to six hours and requires several days of hospitalization. But it provides a awfully natural trying breast, similar to the unaffected breast. Disadvantages include the possibility of a hernia or bulging in the abdominal wall and some loss of abdominal function, particularly if two abdominal muscles are used.There are two main types of TRAM flaps:
    • Pedicle flap.   In this procedure, the physician leaves the flap connected to its original blood provide and tunnels below the skin to bring it to the breast space.
    • Free flaps.   In this procedure, the medico cuts some of the abdominal at the side of its blood provide out of the abdomen, then reattaches it to the breast space using microsurgery to connect the blood supply. This procedure is additional complicated than the peduncle flap and needs a extended operational time and admission to a ward that makes a speciality of the watching of flaps to make sure that the new breast’s blood supply works properly. It is particularly useful when tissues are damaged such as following radiation therapy and when tissue expansion is not an option. The free flap procedure is not performed as often as the pedicle flap, but it has a high satisfaction rate. Some doctors assume it ends up in a breast with a additional form. There’s also less risk of abdominal bulges, or hernia, because only part of the muscle is used, and there may be less postoperative pain and discomfort, because there’s no “tunneling.”
  • Gluteal free flap. During this procedure, the surgeon uses part of your gluteal muscle and tissue from your buttocks to create a new breast. It is similar to the TRAM flap in that the surgeon moves skin, fat, muscle and blood vessels from the buttocks to the chest area. Microsurgery is required to connect tiny vessels. In some cases, no muscle is removed, and this is referred to as a gluteal artery perforator (GAP) flap. A gluteal free flap procedure might be an option for women who cannot or would rather not use tissue from their abdominal areas due to thinness or other reasons. However, it’s not offered everywhere.
  • Latissimus dorsi flap (LDF). In this operation, the surgeon transplants a section of tissue that includes skin, fat and muscle from your back to your chest to reconstruct the breast. This procedure is most acceptable girls|for ladies|for girls} with little breasts and significant women in whom use of the TRAM or DIEP flaps (described below) isn’t potential. Downsides include the possibility of weakness in your upper back and chest, a noticeable scar on your back and a seroma or fluid collection.
  • Inner thigh or transverse upper gracilis (TUG) flap. Another newer possibility, TUG flap surgery uses muscle and animal tissue from very cheap of the buttocks and also the inner thigh. The medico uses a magnifier to attach the blood vessels to their new blood provide. It may be an option for women who don’t want to use TRAM or DIEP flaps; however, it isn’t available in all areas of the country. This procedures is best for girls UN agency would like a smaller or medium sized breast and UN agency have enough tissue in their inner thighs (their inner thighs ought to touch).

Reconstruction of the Nipple and Areola

Once your breast has been reconstructed, you’ll favor to have a mamilla and areola (the close dark tissue) created. This is done as a separate, outpatient procedure after the reconstruction heals, usually under local anesthesia. The mamilla is sometimes reconstructed victimization the skin round the new breast mound. In some girls, the skin is taken from other areas of your own body, such as from your opposite nipple, ear, eyelid, groin, upper inner thigh, buttocks or the newly created breast. The areola is created with tattooing a few weeks later. In some girls UN agency have had radiation to the reconstructed breast, nipple reconstruction may not be possible. In these girls, options will include a prosthetic nipple or a 3-D nipple and areolar tattooing.

Realistic Expectations

It’s important that you have realistic expectations about your breast reconstructive surgery. Among the issues to consider are:

  • Scarring. There will be some scarring. How much depends on your individual situation. All scars will be pink to red for six to 12 months before they fade to a normal skin tone.
  • Mismatched breasts. Your new breast might not match your recent breast specifically, and you may need surgery on the unaffected breast to make the two look the same.
  • Lack of sensation. Depending on what quantity skin was left when the ablation, you may not have much sensation in the reconstructed breast. Over time, the skin may become more sensitive but may never return to the level of sensitivity it had before the surgery. Reconstructions using flaps often remain without sensation.
  • Repeat surgeries. In some instances, particularly with breast implants, you may need additional surgeries in the years ahead to correct any problems. Also, like alternative medical devices, breast implants—saline or silicone—are not period of time devices. It is likely, that at some point in your lifetime they may need to be removed or replaced.

After Breast Reconstructive Surgery

After breast anaplasty, you’ll not want mammograms on the reconstructed breast, though you must still continue breast self exams on the healthy breast to condole with any abnormalities. Make sure you continue following up with your surgeon and oncologist for signs of any recurrence. If the cancer recurs, your treatment will be the same whether or not you’ve had breast reconstruction. If breast imaging is suggested, an MRI is usually recommended.

Facts to Know

  1. Many women World Health Organization bear a cutting out to get rid of or forestall carcinoma prefer to bear breast anaplasty. Overall, quite ninety one,000 women chose to have breast reconstructive surgery in 2012, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
  2. There are two main forms of breast reconstructive surgery: breast reconstruction with breast implants, which involves the surgical implantation of a saline-filled or silicone gel-filled envelope under the chest muscle; and tissue flap breast reconstruction, in which a woman’s own skin, fat and, in most instances, muscle, are used to create a new breast.
  3. Under federal law, all health insurance policies must cover breast reconstruction after mastectomy, although there may be limits on the type of reconstructive surgery covered.
  4. Many women square measure eligible for a direct breast reconstruction at constant time they bear cutting out.
  5. Women World Health Organization bear immediate breast anaplasty tend to feel higher showing emotion than girls World Health Organization wait.
  6. Immediate breast reconstruction is a smaller amount dear than delayed reconstruction, less disruptive to a woman’s life and may provide better cosmetic results.
  7. You can have breast anaplasty years once your cutting out, if your health allows.
  8. There square measure 2 varieties of breast implants available—silicone gel-filled and saline-filled. Many surgeons suppose that ladies get a additional natural-looking breast with silicone polymer gel-filled implants than with saline implants.
  9. Tissue flap breast reconstruction could be a additional complicated operation and needs a extended surgery and recovery than breast anaplasty with breast implants. However, it may result during a additional natural-looking breast.
  10. Women World Health Organization smoke or have polygenic disease or alternative conditions that have an effect on the health of their blood vessels square measure typically not sensible candidates for tissue flap breast reconstruction. Neither square measure skinny girls or people who have antecedently had surgery within the space from that the tissue are removed.

Key Q&A

  1. When can I have breast reconstructive surgery?When you have your breast surgical procedure depends on your medical condition, psychological condition and any postsurgical treatment needed. Many women can have an immediate breast reconstruction. But if you would like postsurgical radiation, your doctor might like that you simply wait till treatment ends before breast reconstruction.
  2. What types of breast reconstruction are available?There square measure 2 main types of breast reconstruction: implants, that involve surgical implantation of a saline or silicone-gel-filled shell underneath the chest muscle; and tissue flap breast reconstruction, in which a woman’s own skin, fat and, in most instances, muscle are used to create a new breast. This tissue comes from the higher back, lower abdomen, thigh or buttocks.
  3. Why would I need a two-stage breast reconstruction?If you’ve got massive breasts or there’s not enough skin left once the extirpation to hide Associate in Nursing implant, you’ll need a two-stage implant reconstruction. The first stage involves inserting a balloon-like tissue expander underneath the skin within the breast space, then adding saline weekly roughly for a month to many months to stretch the skin. This isn’t painful but may be uncomfortable. After the skin is stretched enough, the expander is removed, and the permanent implant inserted in a second surgery.
  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of breast reconstruction with breast implants?The surgery and recovery time square measure shorter, and also the procedure itself needs less specialised talent than tissue flap reconstruction. However, there’s a larger risk of semipermanent complications from breast implants and, like different medical devices, breast implants—saline or silicone—are not lifetime devices. It is likely that at some point they may need to be removed or replaced. When one extirpation is performed, some patients pick implant surgery on the opposite breast further to realize a a lot of symmetrical look to the reconstructed breast.
  5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a tissue flap breast reconstruction?Tissue flap breast reconstruction may be a way more complicated surgical treatment, requiring more time in the operating room with the possibility for significant blood loss. It conjointly needs a far longer recovery time than implants. However, tissue flap breast reconstruction ends up in a a lot of natural-looking breast that lasts forever.
  6. Can I have a nipple and areola added?Your surgeon can create a nipple and the surrounding dark tissue, called an areola, on your new breast. This is done as a separate, outpatient procedure after your breast reconstruction has healed, usually under local anesthesia. The pap is typically reconstructed with a tattooed skin flap, with skin taken from your own body, such as from your opposite nipple, ear, eyelid, groin, upper inner thigh, buttocks, or the newly created breast. The areola is created with tattooing a few weeks later.
  7. What if I don’t want breast reconstruction now but change my mind later?As long as you are in good health, you can have breast reconstruction at any time.
  8. Will my insurance cover the procedure? What if I don’t have any health insurance?One thing you don’t have to worry about is fighting with your insurance company to pay for the procedure. The 1998 Federal Breast Reconstruction Law needs all insurance corporations to hide reconstruction of the breast on that extirpation has been performed and surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance. If you do not have insurance, sit down with your medico and also the hospital concerning negotiating a reduction rate.