What is Breast Reconstruction?
Perhaps the most important chunk of cosmetic surgery is taken up by Breast Enhancing and Corrective Surgeries. Even though these procedures are of various kinds, depending on your need, breast surgery is the single most performed cosmetic procedure all across the United States.
Breast Reconstruction is a type of plastic surgery that is chosen by women in special circumstances. Let’s understand this term thoroughly before we go into details about Breast Reconstruction as a procedure.
Breast Reconstruction is the rebuilding of the breast mound on top of the chest. As the name suggests, this cosmetic procedure structures and shapes a woman’s breast, which has been damaged or destroyed under peculiar circumstances. Most women undergo breast reconstruction because of breast cancer. Other women undergo breast reconstruction because they were born with misshapen breasts or no breast formation. Some women undergo breast reconstruction due to trauma or burns.
Breast reconstruction is a delicate and intricate surgery – one that needs to be performed by a Board Certified doctor. At the Southwest Plastic Surgery Practice, Dr. Frank Agullo understands the importance of the best reconstruction of your bust. Being a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Agullo has years of experience and knowledge under his belt, making him a top choice amongst women opting for Breast Reconstruction in all of Southwest Texas, including the El Paso, Amarillo, Horizon City and Odessa regions.
Is Breast Reconstruction Right For You?
How can you decide whether breast reconstruction is the right procedure for you?
Before you single out this surgery, consider the following questions:
- Have you been a victim of breast cancer? Breast Cancer is the biggest reason why women opt for breast reconstruction. During the medical treatment to extract the cancerous cells from the breast, a process called mastectomy, a woman loses part of the breast or the entire breast on one side or both. Even though the extent of damage to the breasts depends on the cancer and the amount of the breast tissue is taken out to ensure the cancer doesn’t spread to other parts of the body.
- Have you been a victim of an accident? In many cases, if a woman has gone through a severe accident that damages breast tissue, breast reconstruction may be a possible choice to give the bust its original shape.
- Were you born with misshapen breasts? Breast reconstructive surgery techniques can be used to reshape the breasts and achieve symmetry. Patients born with Poland syndrome, tuberous breast deformity, asymmetry, or undeveloped breasts, can obtain a return to normal.
Opting for Breast Reconstruction is not an easy choice. While it may weigh on you heavily, you need to understand that it is the only way to restore shape, feel and texture to your breasts and consequently, uplift your spirits and morale. Consider your options by setting up a consultation today.
Preliminary Considerations For Breast Reconstruction
Once a patient knows that breast reconstruction is the right procedure for her, Dr. Frank Agullo suggests a thorough consultation. At Southwest Plastic surgery Practice, the cosmetic surgery team goes the extra mile to make sure all patients are comfortable and reassured of the most caring treatment in Southern Texas and New Mexico, at the hands of the certified surgeon.
During these consultations, your surgeon will walk you through the steps of reconstruction surgery to make sure you know what to expect. Breast Reconstruction is performed via multiple techniques. Because this process has to be just right to give your breast the best shape, lift and size, Dr. Agullo first performs surgery to create the breast mound. This is the most important step.
Follow up surgeries will be done to bring improvements, revise the position of the breasts and to reconstruct the nipple. Other than the steps of the surgery, the following are the most important considerations; remember to ask questions about each option and make a note of the pros and cons of each:
Types of Breast Reconstruction Procedures
The type of breast reconstruction you want to opt for is the No. 1 question. There are two different ways in which a patient’s breasts can be reconstructed. While both types give similar end results, depending on a number of personal preferences and pros and cons of each, you and your doctor will choose from the following cosmetic alternatives.
Autologous Tissue Flap for Breast Reconstruction
The Autologous Tissue Flap Procedure reconstructs breasts by taking tissue from other parts of the patient’s body. For many women, this procedure takes precedence over all others because they feel their breasts will be reshaped from natural and not synthetic cells and tissues, therefore giving them a close-to-original feel.
The Autologous procedure, though lengthy and much more demanding, significantly reduces the chances of the body rejecting the new breast(s). Therefore, opting for it may be the best way to give yourself some peace of mind in the short and long run. Dr. Agullo specializes in the use of the SPY System by Lifecell Corporation, which ensures constant blood flow to the flaps and tissues and prevents flap loss after surgery.
At present, there are two ways in which a tissue flap is used for breast reconstruction. These are:
- TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction:
TRAM stands for Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous Flap. Using a TRAM Flap technique, the surgeon at Southwest Practice takes tissue from the tummy/abdominal area to shape the breast. Hence, along with new breasts, you also get a tummy tuck!
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap Breast Reconstruction:
For this tissue flap procedure, Dr. Agullo extracts and channels tissues from the upper back (shoulder area) to the chest. These tissues are then set and shaped into breasts; giving the patient a fuller and much firmer bust. This procedure is often combined with an implant or expander.
Implant Breast Reconstruction
In an Implant Reconstruction procedure, the breasts are rebuilt using silicone implants and Alloderm Mesh. Silicone Implants Reconstruction is a popular choice in Breast Reconstruction for a number of reasons. For one, it is a much shorter surgery with fewer complications and side effects. Second, when silicone implants are used, the chances of a weak abdominal wall are reduced. Therefore, with this technique, there is no risk to other parts of the body.
Perhaps the only drawback of silicone implants is the possibility of rupture or capsular contracture. While this is a rare incident, it should always be kept in mind before you make a choice between Implant Reconstruction and Autologous Tissue Flap Surgery.
Currently, there are contour shaped cohesive silicone implants sometimes referred to as “gummy bear” implants which have improved results in breast reconstruction for many women. Southwest Plastic Surgery is proud to be in the forefront of reconstructive breast surgery by utilizing the “gummy bear” implants in the appropriate candidates.
At present, Silicone Reconstruction is done in two ways:
One Stage Immediate Breast Reconstruction:
The One Stage Immediate Breast Reconstruction Surgery has become a popular alternative for most women. This surgery combines the two procedures, i.e. mastectomy and reconstruction. While a doctor removes the affected breast, a cosmetic surgeon replaces it with a silicone implant immediately. The One Step Surgery makes it easier for the patient to recover from both the procedures at the same time, instead of going through both separately.
Two Stage Breast Reconstruction:
The Two Stage Breast Reconstruction Surgery first takes out the affected breasts from a woman’s chest and later implants the new ones in another surgery after the area heals. Instead of planting the silicone breasts immediately, the doctor places an Implanted Tissue Expander under the skin so that when the silicone implants are positioned, the chest skin is already stretched to shape.
Cost of Breast Reconstruction
Breast Reconstruction Surgeries are covered by most health insurance policies. Because a woman goes through this procedure in the aftermath of a serious ailment like cancer, American Federal laws strongly promote this surgery as a way to a high quality of life.
Therefore, make sure your health insurance is in place before you opt for breast reconstruction. To make such legalities easy for you, Dr. Agullo takes full part in the process to get the surgery approved by insurers.
Conscious Sedation or General Anesthesia for Breast Reconstruction
While the first surgery for the breast mound is usually always done under general anesthesia, there is a choice for Conscious Sedation for later surgeries.
Preparing For Your Surgery
Unlike other cosmetic procedures related to the size and shape of breasts, breast reconstruction is more of an emotional ride for the patient. Reconstruction of the breasts is not done to enhance their appeal; instead, it is performed in the aftermath of breast cancer, which is one of the most rapidly spreading diseases in the world.
With a high death rate of women who fail to make it through as a result of breast cancer, if you make it to the reconstruction stage consider yourself lucky. At Southwest Plastic Surgery Practice, Dr. Agullo understands this dilemma. Apart from providing adequate advice and medical care; they will be your support throughout the duration of the reconstruction.
Therefore, you have to be emotionally strong and take the following steps before your surgery:
- Quit smoking at least 2 weeks before the surgery.
- Do not use any lotions, creams or potions on the chest area.
- Pack an overnight duffle bag with your essentials. You will be spending 1 to 6 nights under strict care.
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before the surgery.
- Make sure you do not drive or indulge in strenuous exercises right after the surgery.
- Lastly, talk to a friend or family member to take care of your home or kids while you recover.
Risks Associated With Breast Reconstruction
Breast Reconstruction is a safe procedure. However, just like there are side effects and risks associated with every surgery, breast reconstruction is no exception. Some common risks include:
- Extreme fatigue post-surgery
- Clotting and fluid buildup
- Loss of sensation
- Implant rupture
- Changes in shoulder length (in case of Latissimus Dorsi Flap)
- Weak abdominal wall
The Road To Recovery after Breast Reconstruction
Recovery from breast reconstruction can take time. For at least 6 to 8 weeks you may experience soreness, swelling and pain. This will make you dizzy, nauseous, light headed and even cause rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.
Throughout the recovery period, Dr. Agullo and his team will monitor you closely and watch for undesirable signs. If you feel any extreme side effects, inform your doctor immediately. At the time of departing, the surgeon will give you a special bra; make sure you wear it day and night to help your breasts recover gradually.