The aim of this surgery is to improve the shape or size of the breasts in order for medical, reconstructive and cosmetic purposes. This procedure is the main solution presented to women with breast cancer, who have been forced to undertake a mastectomy (breast removal). This condition can be devastating for women and can be the cause for severe depression and self-consciousness.
However, scientific research has found a way to help women in this situation by improving the techniques for breast reconstruction. Today, this surgery recreates the natural contours of the patient’s breast, renewing her sense of femininity and beauty. It can be performed immediately after a mastectomy and thus, the patient can wake up with a breast mound already in place, without having to suffer from the experience of seeing herself with no breast at all.
But you must keep in mind that this procedure is not simple and there are many factors which need to be considered. Therefore, we present the following information to serve as a guideline in aiding you take decisions.
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Whenever you come to the decision of submitting yourself to any type of plastic surgery, you always need to keep in mind that no procedure will be able to provide a ‘perfect’ aspect to your body. The objective of a cosmetic treatment is to achieve an enhancement in your features, not to provide an ‘ideal’. This can help your boost your self-confidence and assurance, making you feel better with the way you look while at the same time keeping realistic and down-to-earth expectations. This is one of the core values we have here at HCR: we want you to be completely satisfied with the results of your surgery and heighten your self-esteem.
Many factors play an important role when it comes to being a candidate for breast reconstruction. Aspects such as age, smoking/medical history, changes in weight and your physical health will have to be taken into consideration and discussed with your doctor.
By connecting you with one of the best teams of doctors in the industry, HCR is aware of the different types of needs our diverse patients may have. Therefore, we will provide the best service possible for you, not matter what you are looking for, and we will aid you in every possible way in your pursuit to enhance your appearance.
One thing HCR always points out is the need for patients to be aware of all the different aspects of the surgery you are willing to undertake (the cost and recovery process); everything must be made extremely clear for you and we will always go out of our way to accomplish this.
Also, you can feel free to ask your doctor concerning any questions or doubts you may have concerning the procedure. He/she will always inform you about all the different details; for example, you should know if you should stop taking certain medications or if you will need to refrain from drinking or eating for a certain time period before your surgery.
Make sure you have good communication with your surgeon at all times since this will help increase your level of satisfaction. Therefore, please do not hesitate to contact HCR since we will be more than happy to help you with anything you need.
The whole operation is performed under general anesthesia and can take from 2 to 6 hours, depending on the extent of the reconstruction. There are basically three procedures, which are chosen depending on the amount of skin replacement needed, the size, shape and position of the breast the patient desires and the amount of skin the patient has available for reconstruction.
However, some surgeons prefer to use another approach which implies the use of tissue from your abdomen, thigh or back to reconstruct the breast (usually applied when the overlying skin of the breast is too thin). The blood supply which nourishes the chest muscles is kept intact (allows good tissue survival) and the needed tissue is moved to its new locating, but may leave scarring at the donor site. Once it is in place, an implant is inserted underneath the muscle, recreating the natural contours of a breast mound. Keep in mind that this procedure, (known as a ‘flap’) is not recommended when you have been submitted to strong doses of radiation, since this treatment can leave severe scarring.
Most surgeons use an expander as their preferred implant type. This basically consists in placing a ‘balloon’ beneath the skin and muscle, injecting it with a saline solution over a few weeks (until an appropriate shape and size of the reconstructed breast is achieved) in your doctor’s office. After a few months have, this expander will be replaced by a permanent implant.
Depending on the extent of your surgery, you will be allowed to leave the hospital/clinic around 2 to 5 days after the operation. This is because this type of procedure usually requires a surgical drain to be placed, so that any excess fluids from the surgical site are removed and do not accumulate, which could lead to complications.
You should expect to be up and about in approximately 6 to 8 weeks; if your surgeon did not use flap reconstruction, your recovery time should be much less. You must always keep in mind that this procedure does not return normal sensation to our breast, even though some feeling may be restored. Also, it can take up to 2 years for the tissues to heal completely and for the scars to fade slightly, even though they will never disappear entirely. Therefore, a great deal of patience is recommended when it comes to healing after this procedure.
It is recommended for you to begin some stretching exercises and light activities whenever your feel up to it and it doesn’t cause too much discomfort. However, you should refrain from doing any overhead lifting or have any sexual activity for at least 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery.
Most women have a period of emotional readjustment as they get used to their ‘new breast’. As it is difficult to accept the results of a mastectomy, it is also difficult to accept your new reconstructed breast as your ‘own’. Give yourself time to heal physically and emotionally and take things little by little. HCR actually recommends that you talk to other women who have gone through the same surgery as well visiting a psychologist; he/she will be able to help you deal with your feelings in a positive and constructive manner.
As with any type of cosmetic surgery, complications are unusual, but they sometimes do happen. However, they are usually minor and can be reduced by precisely following your doctor’s directions before and after the procedure.
After breast reconstruction, patients, in rare cases, have been known to suffer from bleeding, fluid collection leading to swelling and pain, excessive scar tissue, infection (treated with antibiotics or depending on the case, implant removal), changes in nipple and breast sensations. Sometimes, a secondary surgery is needed to correct any problems which arise after the initial operation.
Make sure to ask your surgeon concerning any risks you might have to face when undertaking this surgery. However, you must keep in mind that our certified group of doctors works full-time to prevent such scenarios from happening, since we value the health of our patients above anything else.
In order to keep the risks at a bare minimum, please make sure that you follow your surgeons instructions at all times.
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