Long Beach Breast Reconstruction
Southern California Plastic Surgery Group
Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately after a mastectomy (breast removal) or during a subsequent procedure. Reconstructing a breast that has been removed for medical reasons can greatly improve your outlook on recovery and has played a large role in reducing the stigma and emotional pain for breast cancer patients.
Many women begin to explore their options for reconstruction as soon as they are diagnosed with cancer. Focusing on a positive outcome and on recovery eases the entire process for many people. Most can have reconstructive procedures immediately after their mastectomy and never have to experience the full loss of a breast.
However, breast reconstruction is a complicated process and there are many options to consider. Some patients are overwhelmed with the decisions they are already facing immediately after diagnosis, and do not feel ready to think about the reconstruction phase. Waiting until you are ready will not prevent you from having reconstructive surgery, and you should move at a pace that you feel comfortable with.
Almost all mastectomy patients can have breast reconstruction surgery, but there are some things to keep in mind. Women whose cancer may not have been completely removed, who smoke, or who have other health problems such as obesity, may need to postpone reconstruction. If you’ll be having a mastectomy, you may be able to have the reconstruction done at the same time.
Full breast reconstruction requires several procedures. The first procedure rebuilds the breast mound. The nipple and areola are reconstructed in a follow up procedure. There are two main ways breast reconstruction can be done:
- Skin expansion
- Flap reconstruction
This is the less complicated method. An expander balloon is inserted beneath the skin and muscle and slowly filled with salt water until the tissue is expanded enough to accommodate an implant. Typically the balloon is filled during several sessions over a period of several weeks or months. Some expanders are removed and replaced with an implant, others are designed to be the permanent implant themselves.
This method uses skin taken from other parts of your body, often the abdomen, back or buttocks. This skin can retain its original fat, muscle, and blood supply and be moved under the skin to the chest area, where it’s attached to be a casing for the implant.
Alternatively, it may be removed from its original blood supply and reattached to blood vessels in the chest area. This is known as micro vascular surgery and requires special plastic surgery experience.
Flap reconstruction is more complex surgery than skin expansion. No implant is needed, but there are two incision sites: the place where skin was removed, and the breast site.
However, it can lead to more natural results than use of an implant.
Whether Dr. Hicks uses skin expansion or flap reconstruction, there’ll probably be some follow-up procedures.
- Reconstruction of the nipple and areola
- Insertion of the implant, if one is used
- Shaping or lifting your reconstructed breast for symmetry or your intact breast to match the reconstructed one
You will be tired and sore for a week or two after breast reconstruction. Dr. Hicks will prescribe pain mediation to minimize any discomfort. You should expect to spend two to five days in the hospital following your surgery.
- You may have a surgical drain, for one to two weeks, which allows excess fluid to drain from the surgical site
- Stitches are removed in one week to ten days
- You should be able to resume light activity in three weeks but do avoid strenuous activities for about six weeks
- You will experience a loss of sensation in your breasts, but some of the feeling may return over time
Get more familiar with breast reconstruction by viewing our Before and After Gallery.
Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Hicks in Beverly Hills, Long Beach, or Los Angeles, California, to determine if you are a good candidate for breast reconstruction. During your consultation Dr. Hicks will evaluate your unique body type and desired results, explain all your treatment options, discuss the outcome you can realistically expect, and answer any questions you may have.