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Means of Breast Reconstruction

When decide to reconstruct your breasts after discussing with your doctor, you may need to know the following contents: If you are suitable for breast reconstruction? When will be better for you to take the operation? Which breast reconstruction operation will be more economical, effective and suitable for you? What’s the risk of the operation? How to take care of yourself after operation?

Read this article to learn more about breast reconstruction process, and made you fully prepared to the changes. Undoubtedly, you will be still and even more dynamic and charming.

The timing of reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is usually applied in the early stage of breast cancer, which can be done simultaneously when the patient is having the resection. This is called simultaneously modified radical mastectomy reconstruction, also called immediate reconstruction. It has become one of major trends of breast reconstruction. Reconstruction can also be applied in a few weeks, months or years later, which is called "delayed reconstruction”.

Immediate reconstruction (recommended)    vs       Delayed reconstruction

Completed within one operation, less pain, safer

Done after the surgery, with more pain, slightly higher risk

Without fear of losing the breast, social difficulties and negative emotions reduced

Breast losing in a period causing distress and social problems & psychological pressure

Better cosmetic effects

Can’t reach the optimal cosmetic effects

Lower cost

Higher cost

Does not affect other cancer treatments

Two years later after chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, with long recovery time

Does not increase the rate of local recurrence of cancer

Does not increase the rate of local recurrence of cancer

What kind of reconstruction means one can choose?

1、Immediate prosthesis implantation: One step meets individual needs

Prosthesis implantation refers to breast reconstruction that doctors take saline water or silicone gel as fillers, and implant them to the pectoral parts to achieve excellent cosmetic effects. This kind of surgery can be completed in a short operative time, and recover in a quick period.

For patients whose breast skin is well-preserved during the resection, immediate prosthesis implantation can be done together soon after removing the tumor. Completing breast prosthesis implantation and the removal of breast lesions in one surgical operation can eliminate the need for a secondary surgery. For those who have more skin excision, patients can choose to place a breast skin tissue expander to expand the breast skin for several months before the implantation.

Prosthetic implants have two categories: saline-filled staff and new generation of silicone gel-filled materials. In Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou, the prosthetic implants they use are the latest generation of silicone gel implants which are approved to applied in the international market by the FDA. They are soft, smooth, safe, scientific, and with a real feel. The doctor will implant proper size of prosthetic implants according to the mastectomy range and shape of the breast skin.

(Immediate breast prosthetic implant reconstruction done in a step together with mastectomy)

2、Autologous tissue transplant reconstruction: Take a part of tissues from the patient’s own body to build a natural sense of “curve”

Breast reconstruction with autologous tissue transplantation is a means that doctors take some tissues from the back, abdomen, hips or thighs from the patients to reconstruct a breast. These issues include the skin, fat, muscle, and blood vessels. Compared to prosthesis implantation, autologous tissue transplantation is more durable and natural. Meanwhile, autologous tissue transplantation involves to vascular connections, which is a complex surgery must be done in a hospital with high degree of technical expertise and surgical equipment.

(1)LD flap for breast reconstruction

Latissimus dorsi flap for breast reconstruction is first applied in 1970, which can be divided into standard and extended latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap reconstruction. Close to the chest, latissimus dorsi is much more convenient for breast reconstruction. Patient’s back skin and fat will be transferred to the below of the chest, connecting arteries and veins organizations. When the patient’s latissimus dorsi muscle flap is not enough for the standard breast reconstruction, it is often combined together with prosthesis implantation.

  (The picture shows: Process of latissimus dorsi muscle flap for breast reconstruction)

(2)Abdominal tissue for breast reconstruction

This method is to take the patient's own tissue flap from the abdomen then transfer to the chest for breast reconstruction, including lateral rectus muscle flap and inferior epigastric artery perforator flap reconstruction. Using abdominal tissue for reconstruction can not only make a good shape breast, but also reduce the belly fat and make the abdomen looks more flat. However, the surgery of abdominal tissue flap for breast reconstruction is more difficult and takes longer hospital stays.

  (The picture shows: Horizontal rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap reconstruction)

(3)Buttock tissue flap for breast reconstruction

Buttock tissue flap for breast reconstruction is a choice when back or abdominal tissues are no longer applicable. Because of the complex of surgery, and the possibility that it could easily lead to hip scar, it is not commonly used.

  (The picture shows: Process of buttock tissue flap for breast reconstruction)

What kind of reconstructive surgery is suitable for you depends on your own factors such as:

Your overall health condition;

The stage of your breast cancer;

The natural size of your breast;

Your affordability ( eg, body tissue flap reconstruction may cost more );

If you want to reconstruct both breasts;

Which means of reconstruction you prefer to;

Your expected appearance after breast reconstruction;

Sizes of the implants and reconstructed breast;

About nipple and areola reconstruction

Nipple and areola reconstruction is the last part in the process of breast reconstruction, since your nipple and areola might be removed during breast modified radical mastectomy. However, some patients feel comfortable and customary without nipple & areola, and do not want to undergo this procedure. Over the past 30 years, surgeons have used a variety of ways to reconstruct nipple and areola, including kinds of partial flap reconstruction, or merely tattoos. More way that suits you, you can discuss with your doctor after performing breast reconstruction.

Click these links for more information

Reconstruct Breast Immediately after Modified Radical Mastectomy

Nursing after Modified Radical Mastectomy with Immediate Breast Reconstruction

Modified Radical Mastectomy

FAQ of Breast Reconstruction after Modified Radical Mastectomy