Breast

Breast Reconstruction

Introduction

A woman’s breasts can symbolise femininity, motherhood and sexual appeal. How a woman feels about her breasts will greatly impact on her self-image and confidence, so losing all or part of a breast can be devastating. Fortunately, breast reconstruction procedures are highly advanced, and the operation is responsible for helping countless women recover from illness and return to a normal and fulfilling life.

Breast reconstruction involves re-forming a breast to its previous symmetry. It will then match the opposite side, as closely as possible, in shape and volume. It can be a multi-staged procedure depending on the surgical techniques used and the extent of the required breast reconstruction. Various options are available for breast reconstruction, including using breast implants/expanders, or using the patient’s own tissue to reconstruct the breast.

There are both advantages and drawbacks in the procedures used, and subsequent radiotherapy can also compromise recovery. During your consultation with Dr Ellis Choy, he will take the time to answer all your questions and concerns and this will allow you to move forward positively and with confidence.

Breast reconstruction as part of the healing process

There is no shame in becoming a little selfish when recovering from a major illness. Overcoming breast cancer is a huge achievement that is well supported by breast reconstruction surgery as part of the healing process. You are the priority, regardless of any expectations from others for a return to the perfect body. It’s also important to understand surgical limitations in delivering full feeling and sensitivity to a badly damaged breast, but breast reconstruction surgery can certainly provide a major step toward a more vital life.

There is no shame in becoming a little selfish when recovering from a major illness. Overcoming breast cancer is a huge achievement that is well supported by breast reconstruction surgery as part of the healing process. You are the priority, regardless of any expectations from others for a return to the perfect body. It’s also important to understand surgical limitations in delivering full feeling and sensitivity to a badly damaged breast, but breast reconstruction surgery can certainly provide a major step toward a more vital life.

Breast reconstruction outcomes

The result of breast reconstruction is dependent on the operating procedure, expertise of the surgeon, and the underlying health condition of the patient. Your new breast may lack sensitivity to touch, and there will be incision lines where the breast has been repaired and reconstructed. Your doctor will do everything possible to ensure any incisions fade as closely as possible to your natural skin colour.

Breast reconstruction surgery can involve tissue expansion over several weeks before a breast implant is placed in position. Once healed, there is a good match between the colour and texture of healthy and repaired skin, making incisions less noticeable over time. An alternative is to use tissue from another part of the body, which although providing symmetry to the breasts, will not be a perfect match in colour or texture. Donor sites, typically the back, buttocks or abdomen will also show incision marks.

Symmetry can be further achieved by undergoing a breast lift, reduction or augmentation of the unaffected breast to create a better match. Nipple reconstruction is another relatively simple procedure to improve appearance, and can be carried out under local anaesthesia. The nipple is often removed as part of a mastectomy, and is best re-attached once the tissue has healed and settled after breast reconstruction.

The road to recovery

Undergoing the trauma of breast cancer, including enduring a mastectomy, can be a debilitating experience. Reaching the point of considering breast reconstruction is already a victory, and a sign that recovery is nearing completion. Breast Reconstruction surgery usually takes several hours, with initial recovery in hospital, where your condition will be closely monitored.

As expected, there will discomfort for several days. This, along with the potential for infection, is controlled with appropriate medication as prescribed by Dr Choy. Some patients are able to walk around and even go home after one or two days, however, the stay will be extended for those undergoing more complex procedures. An IV drip and drains for fluid build-up at the incision sites may also be used to assist with recovery.

A breast reconstruction is often an integral step of mastectomy recovery, and any return to work or full activity should be delayed until movement and exercise is comfortable. This can take several months. Initial numbness around the incision areas will diminish over time, and a significant amount of feeling may also return. As swelling subsides and your activity level returns to normal, you will also notice the improvement in the shape of your reconstructed breast.

Click here to see some of the life-changing before and after breast reconstruction cases from Dr Choy.

Breast Reconstruction 3D Animation