Breast Reconstruction After a Mastectomy
A mastectomy is the removal of a breast for cancer. Undergoing a mastectomy can be
a difficult experience. The process on its own is emotionally straining, coupled with
concerns over self-image and confidence with one’s own body. Breast reconstruction,
available immediately after a mastectomy, can restore the breasts to their natural shape.
In the United States, your medical insurance is required to cover both your
mastectomy and breast reconstruction. Should you choose to undergo breast
reconstruction surgery either simultaneously with your mastectomy or at a later time,
be aware of your options to determine which work best with your condition and your
Understanding Your Mastectomy
There are varying types of mastectomies depending on your condition. Over the
years, mastectomies have become more and more precise, often allowing surgeons
to save more skin and in some cases the nipple to help patients feel even more confident with their
body. When possible, a skin-sparing mastectomy or nipple-sparing mastectomy
helps leave more natural skin available for immediate breast reconstruction surgery.
This often creates more realistic breasts. In other cases, a more aggressive surgery is needed,
including some underarm lymph nodes.
TRAM, or transverse rectus abdominis muscle, uses your body’s own abdominal
tissue to create a more natural, lifelike breasts during a skin-sparing mastectomy.
Taking excess fat and muscle from below the navel, your surgeon is able to
reconstruct and shape symmetrical and natural breasts. The loss of abdominal tissue
is similar to a tummy tuck, which some women may see as a benefit.
This type of surgery will cause some scarring along the breast and below the navel.
A second operation is needed for any nipple reconstruction.
In cases where there is not enough natural tissue to reconstruct the breast, breast
implants are an option to achieve symmetrical, natural-looking breasts. MSA offers
two FDA-approved implants: saline and silicone. Deciding on the ideal breast implant
for you depends on your natural shape and skin elasticity and can be discussed
during your initial consultation with a surgeon.
If your circumstances prohibit a nipple from being reconstructed, a nipple tattoo can
be used to create a natural-looking breast. Two types of tattoo procedures are
available. In some cases, your surgeon can use excess tissue to construct a 3D
nipple which is then shaded to look like a natural nipple. When excess tissue is not
available, a nipple tattoo can be shaded to look three-dimensional.
No matter what choice you make, we want you to feel comfortable in your own skin.
Plastic surgeons at MSA are happy to go over your breast reconstruction options,
answer any questions and calm any concerns you may have. Schedule an initial
consultation to help find the right path for you.