If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a mastectomy to eliminate the affected tissue. In some situations, your doctor may even suggest removing both breasts completely as a safety precaution. This is often done in an effort to prevent any cancer cells from spreading into the lymph nodes or other tissue. If you do need a mastectomy, here's a look at some reconstruction options you can discuss with your doctor.
Types of Reconstruction
Implants - Implant reconstruction relies on the use of a saline implant positioned where the breast tissue has been removed from. They're typically not inserted until after treatment is completed and the tissue has healed, so you can opt for these if you are planning a delayed reconstruction, or one that won't take place until after your treatments are completed.
Natural Tissue - Natural tissue reconstruction uses your own body tissue for the reconstruction. The tissue can be taken from your abdomen, your sides or your lower back. This is a viable alternative for those who are uncomfortable with the idea of saline implants. Your surgeon will remove tissue from another area and recreate the breast using that tissue.
The Timing of Your Reconstruction
Immediate Reconstructive Surgery - Immediate reconstructive surgery typically happens during the same surgery as your mastectomy. It is usually done with natural tissue taken from some part of your body that's been confirmed to be free of cancer cells. It can lengthen your recovery time after the surgery, because you're not only waiting for the incisions to heal, but also the reconstructed area.
Delayed Reconstructive Surgery - Delayed surgery usually happens after you've healed from the reconstruction and finished your cancer treatments. This allows your body the time to heal from the surgery and fight the cancer cells before having to deal with the trauma of more surgery.
Combination Reconstructive Surgery - Combination surgery is one which begins during your mastectomy and is finished after your healing. A tissue expander is placed under your skin during the mastectomy. Then, after you've received radiation, your doctor will place the implant in the space created by the expander.
Breast reconstruction is complex surgery, and it isn't right for every patient who undergoes a mastectomy. Luckily, with so many options, your surgeon can help you determine which choice is the best for your current situation. With the details here, you can approach the conversation with a better understanding of the options available to you. For more information, talk with a breast reconstruction specialist like Sam W Huddleston IV, MD.