Choosing a Breast Reconstruction Technique
Whether you are considering breast reconstruction following your mastectomy or would like reconstruction performed at the same time as your mastectomy, your consultation is very important. Breast reconstruction techniques vary depending on the extent of your mastectomy and your natural physique. Personal preference, recovery, and postoperative effects can also sway you away from some techniques. While not every woman qualifies for every technique, Dr. Wald will provide you with detailed options that can help you achieve the breasts you desire.
Tissue Expanders With Implants
Using tissue expanders with implants is one of the least invasive breast reconstruction techniques. An empty tissue expander is placed in the breast pocket following your mastectomy. Over a period of months, the expander is gradually filled with more and more saline, effectively stretching the breast tissue to make room for an implant. During a final surgery, the expander is removed and replaced with a permanent implant.
Latissimus Dorsi Flap
The latissimus dorsi flap uses tissue harvested from the patient to recreate the breast mound. Skin, fat, and muscle are removed from a selected portion of the back, often along the bra band area, to hide scarring. The tissues are then transferred to the breast mound. In some cases, a free flap may be used, where the tissue is attached to a new blood supply at the breasts. In other cases, the tissues may remain attached to the original blood supply. Smaller breasts may be formed from just the transplanted tissue, or implants can be used to increase the size and improve the shape of the breasts.
The TRAM flap also uses patient-harvested tissue to create the breast mound. However, this technique uses tissue harvested from the abdominal region. One of your rectus muscles along with skin and fat are tunneled under the skin to the breast mound. A new breast is created, and, in most cases, the provided tissue is adequate so that an implant isn’t required. A synthetic mesh is used to strengthen the abdominal wall to prevent complications.
Nipple reconstruction is usually the final step of breast reconstruction and helps provide a natural breast appearance. Tissue is taken from the upper thigh or behind the ear, areas which are typically darker pigmented to provide contrast. The tissue is shaped to appear like a nipple and then placed. To achieve more realistic coloring, many patients have the nipple and areola tattooed following their reconstruction.
If you are considering breast reconstruction, schedule your consultation with Dr. Wald today. Contact our office at (714) 312-3549, or fill out our online contact form here for additional information.