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Mastectomy and lumpectomy breast cancer surgeries can save lives, but they can also leave breast cancer survivors disfigured and distraught at losing a major part of their feminine physical features. Breast reconstruction is designed to rebuild the breast mounds after they have been damaged or removed by breast cancer surgery and restore the appearance of a woman’s natural curves.
Although breast reconstruction in Houston cannot re-create functional breasts, this procedure can help breast cancer survivors cope with the loss of their breasts and give them a renewed sense of confidence in their cancer-free bodies.
The Breast Reconstruction Procedure
There are many options for breast reconstruction patients, as breast implants and tissue expanders and a variety of flap surgeries, such as TRAM Flap and DIEP Flap surgeries, that may be utlized to rebuild the breasts.
During surgery, patients are under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. When tissue expanders are used, these inflatable saline breast implants are placed in the chest and then gradually filled with saline solution over time to stretch the skin and tissues and create a new breast mound. Once the area is expanded, breast implants are inserted in place of the tissue expanders. Other procedures such as areola tattooing and nipple reconstruction may take place at that time.
For patients who choose flap surgery, skin, tissue and sometimes muscle are transferred from another body area (usually the abdomen or back) to the chest. With standard TRAM Flap breast reconstruction, the blood supply for the transferred tissues is left intact at the donor site and tunneled up to the chest area. Free flap surgeries such as DIEP Flap breast reconstruction involve complex microvascular surgery to detach then reattach the donor tissue blood supply.
Breast reconstruction in Houston may take place at the same time as mastectomy or lumpectomy procedures when your plastic surgeon is included on the surgical team that addresses your breast cancer. Reconstructive breast surgery may also be performed months or years after your breast cancer removal. There may be only one surgical procedure needed to reconstruct your breasts, however breast reconstruction typically requires multiple, staged procedures to achieve the best results.
Recovering From Breast Reconstruction in Houston
Depending on the type of reconstructive procedure you choose, Dr. Norris will provide you with customized post-operative care instructions and monitor your healing during follow-up appointments in the weeks and months after your breast reconstruction procedure(s). Pain medication to alleviate discomfort and antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection will be prescribed, and you will be given specific activity restrictions and aftercare direction based on your unique needs.
Over the next several weeks, bruising, swelling and numbness will resolve and scars will fade. Be sure to keep surgical scars protected from the sun as they heal in order to prevent darkening. Dr. Norris and his staff will be available to answer questions and address any concerns that arise during your breast reconstruction recovery period.
Am I a good candidate for breast reconstruction?If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, or you have already undergone a mastectomy, you are probably a good candidate for breast reconstruction. Scheduling a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon is the best way to determine if you are an ideal candidate. Current health status, type and stage of breast cancer, as well as ongoing treatments will be considered when determining your eligibility for breast reconstruction.
What are my options for breast reconstruction?Breast reconstruction can be divided into three general categories: implant only, body tissue only, or a combination of implants and body tissue. Each method may require multiple surgeries to achieve optimal results. During the consultation process your surgeon will help you determine which type of breast reconstruction is best for you.
Should I have immediate or delayed breast reconstruction?Breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as a mastectomy or at a later date. Choosing when to have breast reconstruction is a personal decision that may be influenced by several factors such as overall health, stage of cancer and the amount of breast tissue available for surgery. During the consultation process your surgeon will help you to determine the best time to have breast reconstruction.
Will my breasts match after breast reconstruction?If only one breast is treated for breast cancer, you may require additional procedures on the unaffected breast to achieve symmetry. The unaffected breast may require an augmentation, lift or reduction to match your reconstructed breast.
Is breast reconstruction covered by insurance?Group health plans, insurance companies and health maintenance organizations offering mastectomy coverage are required to also cover all stages of breast reconstruction under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA). Contact your health care provider for additional details. If you do not have health insurance, your plastic surgeon will help guide you through the costs associated with breast reconstruction.
Prospective patients who want to find out more about breast reconstruction in Houston or wish to schedule a consultation at Dr. Norris Plastic Surgery should feel free to call us at 713-383-6400 or toll-free at (888) 448-2130.