Breast Reconstruction Surgery With Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Choy
Losing all or part of a breast can be difficult. Fortunately, breast reconstruction techniques are highly advanced, and the operation plays a role in helping countless women move forward from illness.
Breast reconstruction involves re-forming a breast to bring it closer to its previous size and shape. 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 so that you can make informed decisions about your care.
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 minimise your scars, but final scar appearance cannot be guaranteed.
Breast reconstruction surgery can involve tissue expansion over several weeks before a breast implant is placed in position. An alternative is to use tissue from another part of the body, which can improve symmetry of the breasts but will not be a perfect match in colour or texture. The 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 can create a more comprehensive result for some patients 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 challenging experience in many ways. Reaching the point of considering breast reconstruction is already a victory, and a sign that recovery is occurring. 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.
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 should 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.
A breast reconstruction is often an integral step of mastectomy recovery. Click here to see some of the before and after breast reconstruction cases from Dr Choy.
*The information about breast reconstruction was reviewed by Dr. Ellis Choy. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.
Making an Informed Decision
Undergoing plastic surgery is a significant decision that should be made only after careful consideration of all aspects involved, including the potential risks and complications.
General Risks and Complications
There are general risks and complications that apply to most plastic surgery procedures. These are discussed in detail on our Risks and Complications page.
Specific Risks and Complications
In addition to those that apply generally to plastic surgery, each individual procedure comes with its own specific risks and complications. For breast reconstruction, these may include:
- Breast implant risks and complications, such as capsular contracture, implant rupture or leak, implant rippling or wrinkling, implant displacement, breast implant illness (BII) and breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)
- Flap risks and complications, such as hernia, bulging, muscle weakness at the donor site, compromised blood supply, partial or total flap loss, necrosis (tissue death), and loss of breast and nipple sensation
Request a consultation with Dr Choy for a detailed discussion of these considerations. Dr Choy will conduct a thorough risk assessment based on your individual factors and outline the measures that can be taken to minimise these risks. He and his team are here to support your decision-making process, providing all the information you need to make well-informed choices about your care.
Breast Reconstruction/Oncological Information Sheet
Download and print out the Breast Reconstruction/Oncological Information Sheet that includes a list of questions to ask Dr Choy during your appointment.