Reconstructive Breast Surgery
89% percent of women want to see breast reconstruction surgery results before undergoing cancer treatment.
Less than a quarter (23 %) of women know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.
Only 22% of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.
Only 19% of women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts their options and results.
RECONSTRUCTIVE BREAST SURGERY STUDIES SHOW
Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy. Breast cancer is a life-changing diagnosis that forces a patient to make difficult decisions that can affect his or her quality of life as well as appearance. Part of this challenging journey can include breast reconstruction surgery. If you or a loved one is facing breast cancer, you need to know all the facts before having surgery.
Dr. Elise Roe-May is certified in Oncolplastic surgery; Oncoplastic surgery combines the latest plastic surgery techniques with breast surgical oncology. When a large lumpectomy is required that will leave the breast distorted, the remaining tissue is sculpted to realign the nipple and areola and restore a natural appearance to the breast shape. The opposing breast will also be modified to create symmetry.
This is a good option for patients who are candidates for breast conservation therapy or lumpectomy, and are also candidates for breast reduction or mastopexy (breast lift).
CANCER TREATMENT DECISIONS
Unlike many other types of cancer, breast cancer patients have many options regarding their surgical treatment. It is very important to ask your doctors questions and gather all of the information possible before proceeding with breast cancer surgery or breast reconstruction.
When you are talking with your surgeon about your treatment options, you will have a discussion about lumpectomy versus mastectomy. A lumpectomy is when only a portion of the breast is removed to treat the cancer. Patients who have a lumpectomy will need radiation after their surgery. A mastectomy is when the entire breast is removed to treat the cancer. These patients do not typically require radiation after surgery. Whether or not you will need chemotherapy depends on the type and size of your cancer. Your surgeon will help you decide which surgical treatment option is best for you based on your wishes as well as the type and size of the cancer. It is important to know that the “survival rates” after breast cancer are the same whether you have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.
Always talk to your doctor about all of your treatment options. There is no one solution that fits every patient. Breast cancer treatment is a very individualized process for all patients. Make sure you are comfortable with not only your surgeons, but with your treatment plan before proceeding to the operating room.
DECISION FOR RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY
If you decide to have a mastectomy, the next decision you face is whether to have breast reconstruction or not. While the recovery time can be quicker if you choose not to have breast reconstruction surgery, the majority of patients choose to have their breasts reconstructed. This reconstruction is usually done at the time of mastectomy. Like the cancer treatment, the decision to reconstruct or not is a very personal decision for the patient. This decision is not one that anyone else can or should make.
Women who have had a lumpectomy may also be candidates for reconstructive surgery as the breast can become distorted after a lumpectomy and radiation. Fat grafting can be performed to help alleviate some of those asymmetries. This grafting involves taking fat from usually the abdomen and injecting it into the deformed breast.
CHOOSE THE PROCEDURE THAT IS BEST FOR YOU
There are two main methods of breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy. The first involves using tissue expanders followed by implants and the second involves rebuilding the breast using tissue from other parts of the body. Each procedure has certain advantages and disadvantages for the patient.
Tissue expanders are temporary implants that are placed at the time of mastectomy. Over several months, fluid is placed into the expanders in the office until the patient gets to the size she wants. At that time permanent implants (either saline or silicone) are exchanged for the expanders. Many patients like implant reconstruction because it localizes treatment to only the breast area. Implants do have certain disadvantages though; they will need to be replaced periodically should they rupture or you develop tight scar tissue around the implant.
Autologous reconstruction, taking tissue from other parts of the body, involves using tissue primarily from your back or abdomen to reconstruct the shape of the breast. The surgeon removes the tissue and transplants it to the breast area. The disadvantage to this kind of procedure is the fact that there are two places on the body that underwent surgery. Multiple surgical areas increases the chance of postoperative complications and scarring.
Surgeons can also perform a combination of both techniques, depending on the particular patient and their needs.
WHEN TO HAVE BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY
Breast reconstruction is usually performed at the time of the mastectomy. This allows for only one surgery and one recovery period.
For some patients, delaying the reconstruction process may be a better option because of the type of cancer or because of the patient’s wishes. Fortunately, the surgeon can do breast reconstruction surgery weeks, months, or even years after the mastectomy or lumpectomy.
WHO SHOULD PERFORM THE SURGERY?
When you make the choice to have breast reconstruction surgery, you need a surgeon that has your best interests in mind. In the Amarillo area, Dr. Roe-May is devoted to her patients from both a reconstructive as well as an oncological aspect. Call Panhandle Plastic Surgery at (806) 350-7929 to get a consultation or visit us in person at 1301 S. Coulter St., Ste. 413 in Amarillo, Texas.