One of the most devastating blows women go through when battling with breast cancer is having to have one, or both, of their breasts removed. However, innovative techniques enable surgeons to reconstruct the breast, restoring confidence and helping many women to regain the feeling of femininity. There are numerous options available and the treatment offered to you will depend upon whether you have had a full mastectomy (removal of the breast), or a lumpectomy (partial glandular tissue removal).
Your general fitness level, individual preferences and how much skin envelope has been removed will also determine the exact treatment you receive.
Understanding the breast reconstruction procedure
Most patients require a number of treatments in order to achieve best results. The first stage usually involves recreating the mound of the breast with either flat tissue taken from another part of the body, or an implant inserted. In some cases, you may even require both of these methods. There will then usually be at least another one procedure which involves correcting asymmetry and reconstruction of the nipple.
Further treatments are usually optional and aim to further the cosmetic enhancement.
While sometimes a breast reconstruction is carried out at the same time as the mastectomy, most patients opt for a delayed reconstruction.
What is the recovery like after a breast reconstruction procedure?
The recovery period will vary depending upon which type of reconstruction you have undergone. If tissue is taken from other parts of the body, the recovery time will be a lot longer than if you’ve simply had implants inserted.
It is important to understand that the reconstructed breast is not going to look or feel exactly as it did prior to removal. Loss of sensitivity is common. If you are still undergoing radiotherapy after the reconstruction, it can affect the appearance of the reconstructed breast.
Finally, when the breasts are reconstructed, they won’t usually have a nipple. This will be discussed during your consultation and nipple reconstruction surgery can be planned at a later stage.