Breast Reconstruction in Norwalk, CT
Breast reconstruction helps patients who have undergone either a mastectomy or lumpectomy regain their confidence and sense of self. A cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatment are some of the most emotionally and physically difficult journeys that any person will ever undergo, and the loss of one or both breasts can alter the way a woman views her body and her identity. Breast reconstruction restores the appearance of the breasts to allow women to regain their feminine physique and feel like their pre-cancer selves. Reconstruction can also restore breast symmetry by addressing the breast affected by mastectomy as well as the opposite breast.
Am I a Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Women who have undergone a mastectomy, partial mastectomy, or lumpectomy are candidates for breast reconstruction as long as they are healthy enough to heal from the surgery. While most women begin their reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), some women choose to wait months, or even years, to undergo delayed reconstruction; there is no time limit for candidacy. The most important thing is that the patient has a positive outlook and is emotionally ready for this next step. Breast reconstruction is a procedure that patients should undergo for themselves rather than to match anyone else’s standards. Therefore, this procedure should be done at your own time and pace.
How Is Breast Reconstruction Performed?
Your oncologist and Dr. Rosen will work together to help determine the best options for you. Breast reconstruction has seen many improvements over the years and can provide natural-looking breasts. There are two common methods of reconstruction: the implant method and the flap method.
What Is Breast Reconstruction With Implants?
The implant method uses implants placed under the chest muscle to build the breast in a multi-step process. Dr. Rosen inserts an expander behind the chest muscle at the time of mastectomy to stretch the skin and develop a breast pocket. Over the course of the following weeks or months, a sterile saline solution is injected into the expander, which allows the skin to stretch and prepare itself to carry the weight of the implant. Once the skin has expanded enough, the permanent implant is inserted to replace the expander, and incisions are closed.
What Is Breast Reconstruction With the Flap Method?
The flap method of breast reconstruction takes tissue from another part of the body to reconstruct the breast mound. Local flap reconstruction uses the patient’s own abdominal tissue to reconstruct the breast, while free flap reconstruction uses tissue from another part of the body. A flap of tissue from the patient’s back may be used in combination with implant reconstruction. As the flap method uses your own tissue, no foreign objects will be introduced to your system (unless it is combined with implant reconstruction). Although this technique is more invasive because the tissue is removed from another area of the body, many women feel like this technique results in a more natural-looking and natural-feeling breast.
What Is Breast Reconstruction With Fat Grafting?
Fat grafting involves liposuction to remove excess, unwanted fat from one area of the body and uses it to enhance another area. This method can add the patient’s own fat to the breasts to make them appear more natural.
What Is Nipple Reconstruction?
After your reconstructed breast has healed and settled into place, nipple and areola reconstruction can be performed to provide you with natural-looking results.
For more information about breast reconstruction, please contact Cosmetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Dr. Rick Rosen, M.D., F.A.C.S. today to schedule your initial consultation.
How Long Is My Breast Reconstruction Recovery?
The recovery period of your reconstruction will vary depending on the technique used. The flap method is the more complicated of the two, as you are operating on two areas of the body; additionally, the recovery may require a longer hospital stay with this method. Regardless of the technique, though, patients will experience some bruising, swelling, and soreness after the surgery. Prescription medications can remedy this discomfort. A support bra or surgical dressings will be worn to minimize swelling and support the reconstructed breast. Breast reconstruction will not interfere with additional cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation.
When Will I See My Breast Reconstruction Results?
The appearance of the reconstructed breast will improve as the tissues heal and/or the implant settles into place. Although the reconstructed breast may look and feel different from your natural breast, this will only be noticeable to you. Scars will fade with time. The results of your breast reconstruction are long-lasting and will not interfere with any future mammograms or cancer screenings.
Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Reconstruction
Am I a candidate for immediate reconstruction?
Immediate reconstruction begins or completes your breast reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy so that you wake up with a similarly sized breast as the one you went to sleep with. While many women prefer this (so that they never have to see themselves without a breast), it is not appropriate for everyone. To be a candidate for immediate reconstruction, you must complete all of your cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, before your mastectomy.
If you are scheduled to have radiation therapy or another treatment after your surgery, you will be recommended to wait before undergoing breast reconstruction.
If I only had a mastectomy on one breast, will I need breast enhancement on the other?
Many women who undergo mastectomy or lumpectomy on one side only choose to enhance the opposite breast to maintain better symmetry between the two. The opposite breast can undergoa breast augmentation, a breast reduction, or a breast lift to maintain balance.
Is breast reconstruction covered by insurance?
Yes. The Woman’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) of 1998 states that breast reconstruction must be covered by group insurance plans. You should check with your insurance provider to determine your level of coverage.
Is breast reconstruction with implants the same as breast augmentation?
The implants used during breast reconstruction are the same implants used during breast augmentation; however, with breast reconstruction, many women require a tissue expander before their implants can be placed (to prepare the skin and remaining tissues for the size of the implant). This expander is not necessary for traditional breast augmentation.
Will breast reconstruction cause my breast cancer to return?
Breast reconstruction will not cause or prevent breast cancer from returning to the remaining breast tissues. There is no correlation between breast reconstruction or augmentation and breast cancer. Your reconstructed breast will not interfere with mammograms, and you should continue to get tested every year (or as often as your oncologist suggests).