Each year, millions of women enhance their shape with breast augmentation surgery. The use of breast implants has become commonplace, and we cannot overlook their value in the reconstructive process after breast cancer treatment. When discussing breast reconstruction, it is necessary to recognize the massive differences between cosmetic breast augmentation and the reinstatement of lost form. In our Bloomington plastic surgery office, patients can rest assured we prioritize their feelings throughout their reconstructive journey. Here, we discuss the critical differences that may be involved in breast reconstruction.
What is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is a procedure or series of surgeries performed to restore the appearance of the breasts after partial or full mastectomy. Form may be replaced with natural fat cells from the patient’s body or with saline or silicone breast implants. Surgical technique is crucial to outcome due to the absence of tissue after mastectomy. During the reconstruction process, substantial focus is given to symmetry as well as size. The objective of surgery is to regain as much balance and natural curvature as possible. Sometimes, a patient’s breasts can be made larger than they were before breast cancer treatment.
Two-Stage Breast Reconstruction
As much as possible, surgeons try to streamline the reconstruction process. When a woman knows that she wants to restore breast shape after mastectomy, her surgical team may plan a single-stage, direct-to-implant procedure in which a pre-selected breast implant is installed immediately following the removal of natural tissue. In many cases, though, a two-stage reconstruction process makes more sense.
The purpose of a two-stage process is to expand tissue over time to accommodate a particular implant size. When this protocol is employed, a tissue expander is installed into a capsule of breast tissue at the time of the mastectomy. Initially, this structure is flat and does not augment the body in any way. A few weeks after installation, expansion treatments begin. Every few weeks, the surgeon injects a sterile saline solution into a port at the front of the tissue expander. Patients typically describe their tissue expansion as feeling tight, if any different at all.
Tissue expansion continues until the desired fullness has been achieved. Then, it is necessary to allow the body to rest in its new shape for a few months before the second surgery is performed. The follow-up procedure removes the tissue expander and inserts the appropriate breast implant into the pocket that has been created.
Breast reconstruction can be a complicated matter. Dr. Tattini’s Ivy League educational background and clinical training make him an excellent resource for women in the Bloomington area. To learn more about breast reconstruction, call (309) 664-1007.