For many women, their breasts play an important role in their appearance and how they view themselves. When a woman loses one or both breasts to breast cancer or other conditions, it can be devastating. Having surgery to reconstruct a breast can be rewarding, both physically and emotionally, and can help a woman regain self-confidence she may have lost when she lost her breast.
If a woman decides that reconstruction may be a good option for her, the first step is to find a qualified doctor and set up a consultation. A plastic surgeon should be experienced and trustworthy. Before deciding on a doctor, it is important to make sure he or she has at least five years of surgical training, operates in appropriate medical facilities, and is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. A consultation is essential; a person must be truthful about their expectations and concerns so the doctor can understand their goals. All medications and pre-existing health conditions must be shared. Additionally, the surgeon will want to examine and measure breasts and explain all of the options and risks associated with surgery including showing some breast reconstruction photos.
When the day of a surgery arrives, it is critical to carefully follow any directions a doctor gives. For example, the doctor may ask a person to stop taking certain medications, get lab testing, or stop smoking a few days or weeks in advance of the operation. Following instructions will help ensure a person’s safety as well as the success of the procedure. The operation itself will begin with anesthesia. After that, the surgeon will use one of several procedures to rebuild the breast. In a flap procedure, the muscle, fat, and skin for the flap will be taken from another spot on the woman’s body, such as from the abdomen or back. Sometimes the flap itself will be enough; other times, the muscle and tissue of a flap is used to support a breast implant. Breast implants may also be able to used without a flap in some cases. Another alternative is tissue expansion, which offers easier recovery than a flap procedure. However, it also takes much longer; it requires many office visits over four to six months. Regardless of which procedure is chosen, the last step will be using grafting or other techniques to reconstruct the nipple.
Breast reconstruction is not right for everyone. As with any surgery, there are risks involved, including bad reaction to anesthesia, incisions that do not heal properly, and infections. Additionally, it can be a painful process and will require time to heal. However, this operation may be an ideal solution for many women that are hoping to restore their breast along with their self-image.