If you’ve had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy as a result, breast reconstruction can help you feel better about your appearance. While the surgery will not restore the exact way you looked and felt before your mastectomy, it can be deeply beneficial to your overall comfort and self-confidence.
What Is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to recreate the breast as close to its previous appearance as possible — unless the patient requests specific changes, such as an increase in the original cup size or projection. Focus is put on the recreation of three areas: the breast mound, the areola, and the nipple. Because all patients and patient experiences are different, each breast reconstruction surgery is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Breast cancer patients who will undergo or have already undergone breast cancer surgery are candidates for breast reconstruction surgery. Of course, you must meet other criteria as well. For example, if a breast reconstruction surgery would interfere with ongoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation — or treatment of another illness or condition — you may need to hold off. In general, patients must be in overall good physical and mental health.
Patients should also be non-smokers and at a healthy weight. Both smoking and being overweight or obese carry with them additional health risks where surgery and the recovery process are concerned. Finally, patients should have realistic expectations about this surgery. Reconstruction will not bring back the same natural breasts you had prior to undergoing cancer surgery. Big improvements can be made, however, and the vast majority of patients who have undergone this surgery are very happy with their results.
Dr. Steinberg will go over all the details of surgery during your breast reconstruction consultation appointment.
What Are My Options for Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
All breast reconstruction surgeries are unique because all breast cancer patients are unique. Depending on the type of mastectomy you had, what your scarring looks like, and when you plan to have reconstruction surgery take place, your options may differ greatly.
You will first need to decide when you want to have the surgery and then decide on the type of surgery you want.
Breast Reconstruction Timing
- Breast Reconstruction at the Time of Cancer Surgery: Some patients opt to have their reconstruction surgery at the same time as their mastectomy or cancer surgery. This prevents the experience of being without natural breasts and gets the majority of the surgical procedures done at one time.
- Breast Reconstruction After Healing From Cancer Surgery: You can also wait until the healing from your cancer surgery has concluded before getting breast reconstruction surgery. This is called delayed reconstruction.
Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery
- Oncoplastic Reconstruction: Rearrangement of tissue after lumpectomy, prior to radiation with a symmetry procedure on the contralateral breast.
- Reconstruction With Tissue Expanders and Breast Implants: Silicone gel, or saline implants may be used. This procedure starts with an implant that can be gradually expanded. This implant is temporary. O=Once the skin is stretched enough for an implant, the temporary expander is removed and a permanent implant is placed.
- Flap Reconstruction Using the Patient’s Own Body Tissue: Also known as autologous tissue reconstruction or “flap procedures,” some patients are able to have their breasts rebuilt using their own tissue.
What to Expect at Your Consultation
Breast reconstruction is a complex surgery. Every patient is different, so a consultation appointment is mandatory for figuring out your best options. At your consultation, Dr. Steinberg, along with help from a Patient Care Coordinator, will speak with you about your medical and surgical history, go over your current medications, and then discuss your options moving forward. You will also have a brief physical exam and get a chance to ask any questions you may have about the procedure as well.
Ideally, you will have a surgical plan in place by the end of your consultation and be able to schedule an appointment(s) for your upcoming reconstruction surgery before you go home.
What to Expect During Your Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Again, all reconstruction surgeries vary greatly. Therefore, it’s difficult to know when and how any given procedure will go.
Generally speaking, as long as you are not having reconstruction performed at the time of your cancer surgery, you will arrive at the accredited surgical center and first be welcomed by staff. You will then be taken to a pre-surgery room where you will be prepared for the procedure and get a chance to speak with Dr. Steinberg. She will perform several markings on your skin in preparation for surgery, and then you will be taken to the operating room, where an anesthesiologist will administer anesthesia for your safety and comfort.
What to Expect During Recovery
Breast reconstruction is generally not an outpatient procedure, so following surgery, you should be able to go home after a day or two. This varies, of course, so some patients may end up staying for a longer recovery period before they are discharged.
Once at home, be sure to closely follow the healing and care instructions provided to you by Dr. Steinberg. You will meet with her several times during the recovery process, and at each appointment, she will tell you when you can begin to return to your normal activities, such as going to work and doing regular exercise.
Some swelling, slight pain, and discomfort is to be expected as you recover. Wearing a compression garment and using ice as needed can help reduce some symptoms. You will also be prescribed pain medications to improve your comfort.
Restore your comfort and confidence with breast construction surgery.
What Are the Possible Risks and Complications of Breast Reconstruction?
Like all major surgeries, there are some possible, yet rare, risks and complications associated with breast reconstruction surgery. These include:
- Anesthesia problems
- Issues with the healing of wounds
- Bleeding and clotting issues
- The build-up of fluids
- Uneven contouring or excessive firmness after healing
- Loss of flap
- Reaction of tissue or implant to radiation
Breast Reconstruction Houston: Frequently Asked Questions
What type of breast reconstruction is best?
This really depends on your situation and circumstances. All patients will have a different experience with their breast cancer surgeries. Additionally, all patients wish to undergo reconstruction in their own way. Some may want to have reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy while others may want to wait and recover from their cancer surgery before going in again for reconstruction surgery.
Limits such as the type of implants being used (if any), mastectomy scarring, overall health, healing time, and insurance restraints will also affect what reconstruction route you choose.
Can you keep your nipples after a mastectomy?
In some cases, patients can have a nipple-sparing mastectomy, which allows the nipple and areola tissue to remain intact. This will be a discussion between you and your breast oncologic surgeon.
How much does breast reconstruction cost in Houston?
All plastic surgery prices vary, depending on certain factors, but none vary so much as breast reconstruction. A range of factors will influence the ultimate cost of surgery, so it’s best to book a consultation appointment in order to get the most accurate estimate. Breast reconstruction surgery is often fully covered by insurance.
Will insurance pay for breast reconstruction?
Yes, in most cases, health insurance may cover some or all of the costs associated with breast reconstruction surgery
Schedule Your Breast Reconstruction Consultation With Dr. Steinberg
Breast cancer reconstruction technology continues to improve, allowing an increasing number of patients to achieve the breast silhouette they desire and feel more comfortable in the skin they’re in. Dr. Steinberg has helped numerous patients navigate this delicate surgery with knowledge, experience, and care.
To learn more about this surgery and to schedule your consultation appointment, contact us today.
Stunning Before & After Photos