The diagnosis of breast cancer can be confusing and overwhelming many doctors are involved, and reconstruction can be the furthest consideration in your mind. Reconstruction for some patients can be preformed at the same time of cancer surgery, which is termed “immediate Reconstrution”.
Breast cancer is a complex problem with many options for treatment. Because of this, no two women have the same reconstructive needs. However, generally speaking, the goal of breast reconstruction is to create an aesthetically pleasing breast that improves self-esteem and confidence. This goal can be accomplished by utilizing a number of surgical techniques.
Breast reconstruction typically involves a series of operations. The first operation works to create the “breast mound.” Depending on the technique used to create the breast mound there may be an operation to revise the breast mound. Then, the nipple is created in a separate procedure. Finally, the nipple and areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) are tattooed, in an office setting.
To create the breast mound, the surgeon may utilize the patient’s own tissues and/or tissue expanders and breast implants. The most common tissues used to reconstruct a breast involve moving skin, fat, and muscle in the form of a “flap” from the back (latissimus dorsi flap) or from the lower abdomen (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap or TRAM). The decision over which path to take is determined by a number of factors, and to decide the best reconstruction path for you, typically, an involved discussion with your surgeon is required.
Most women are candidates for immediate breast reconstruction, which means the first stage of their breast reconstruction can be performed at the time of their mastectomy. This is often a positive way to continue moving on with life, while combining two operations. Some women decide for themselves or it may be recommended, based on the characteristics of their tumor or their overall health, to undergo a delayed breast reconstruction. This means that the first stage of their breast reconstruction would begin 6 months to many years after their mastectomy. Again, these decisions can be made with the help of your oncologist, surgical oncologist, and plastic surgeon.
At this time, federal law mandates that all insurance companies pay for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Also included in this mandate is work on the opposite breast to improve the symmetry between the two sides.
At the Vitale Institute, we are ready to help you through a difficult time in your life, and aid you in making some of these complex decisions. In the process, we hope to recreate a positive body image for you, and therefore, allow you to move forward in life with confidence.