After a masectomy, some women are happy with a prosthesis, and might feel reconstructive surgery is unnecessary. But many women find their breasts affect how they feel emotionally and sexually about themselves. The reconstructed breast will not look exactly like and will lack the sensitivity of a natural breast. However, many women feel their new breast is a perfect match.
Further surgery will be needed if the patient elects to have a new nipple constructed. Surgeons often prefer to wait several months after the initial reconstruction to do this.
Breast reconstruction can restore symmetry between the two breast by replacing skin, breast tissue and the removed nipple. There are two main types of reconstruction, and a myriad of options within these broad categories. A plastic surgeon either creates a breast shape using an artificial implant (implant reconstruction), a flap of tissue from another place on your body (autologous reconstruction), or both.
What results can I expect?
Breast reconstruction is a field of surgery that has advanced considerably over the last decade. Dr. Salas is now able to construct a breast that will closely match the original breast in appearance, even when viewed naked. Sensitivity differs considerably depending upon the patient. Some women find that over time, the new breast becomes quite sensitive, whilst for others, it remains numb to the touch (this is a relative minority).
Expected results of this surgery depend upon a patient's unique situation. Reconstruction at the time of mastectomy generally produces much better cosmetic results than reconstruction done much later.
In general, the reconstructed breast will not age normally, or respond to changes in weight. This means that if you lose or gain weight, this will affect the natural breast, but not the reconstructed breast. Normal aging and breast sagging will also be asymmetrical.
Dr. Salas recognises that breast reconstruction is a deeply personal decision, taken at a stressful and fraught time. He is always happy to discuss treatment options in an obligation-free consultation and has considerable experience steering patients in the right direction.
Each patient will be given specific and tailored instructions regarding preparation for surgery.
Those who smoke run a greater risk of chest infection and the healing wounds in smokers may be slower. For patients who smoke it is advisable to cut down for a week before surgery and to stop smoking completely for three days immediately before the operation. Assumption of Aspirin or blood thinning medication should be avoided for two weeks before surgery as it can reduce natural blood clotting after the operation.
In the first few weeks after surgery, the nipple area may be more sensitive than normal and sometimes there may be a small patch of numbness just above the scar. Such changes are invariably of a temporary nature.