Breast Reconstruction Overview
Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy can be an empowering choice. When challenged with the loss of a breast due to breast cancer or other disease, women today have a wider variety of treatments to choose from than ever before, including the popular breast reconstruction in Houston that helps women regain some of their sense of self.
The Timing of Your Surgery
Once you decide to move forward with your breast reconstruction in Houston and have been approved, you need to consider the timing of your surgery. There are two options for most patients.
- Immediate – When possible, women can undergo breast reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy. This can spare cancer patients additional emotional turmoil and the need for a second surgery.
- Delayed – In some situations, delaying breast reconstruction surgery is preferred. Additional treatments, such as radiation therapy, may necessitate waiting. There is no time limit on when reconstruction surgery can be performed so it’s acceptable to wait until you are sure this is a step you want to take.
The Types of Breast Reconstruction in Houston
At Texas Center for Breast & Body, we offer a number of breast reconstruction options and our surgical team can help you make the right decision based on your needs. First and foremost, Dr. Schusterman attempts to use as much of your natural skin as possible to create the best overall results from your reconstruction. This may also include the nipple and areola. However, much of this can depend on the location and size of your cancer.
Breast Implants and Tissue Expanders
When appropriate, an inflatable breast implant may be inserted behind the pectoral muscle. This temporary implant can then be expanded gradually to stretch out the skin and surrounding tissues so a new breast can be formed. Once the expander has reached the appropriate size, it is then removed and replaced with a long-term silicone breast implant filled with saline or soft silicone.
Your Own Tissues and Skin
If enough skin and tissue can be salvaged, our experienced surgeons may be able to completely reconstruct your breast using your own skin and tissue. In most cases, this skin and tissue may be harvested from the abdomen. This can be done microsurgically called the DIEP flap which drastically limits the damage to your abdominal wall.
Your Own Tissue Plus Implants
For patients who don’t have enough fat and skin to move from other areas, a combination of your own tissue and breast implants can be used.
After going through breast reconstruction in Houston, Dr. Schusterman reconstructs the nipple. Once this area has healed, you will return for pigmentation of the nipple and areola area, which is done through a tattooing process. Colors are matched as closely to the other breast as possible.
The Breast Reconstruction Procedure
Regardless of which method is used to reconstruct your breasts, the overall process is relatively similar. For most patients, general anesthesia is used. The entire procedure can take anywhere from one to six hours, depending on the extent of the reconstruction and whether it can use implants or your own natural tissues. Implant reconstructions often require the use of tissue expanders, which requires a second surgery to remove the expanders and place the long-term implants in their place. On the other hand, natural tissue reconstructions can typically be completed in just one procedure.
The size of the incisions necessary for a breast reconstruction in Houston can vary depending on the type of work done, as well as the size and shape of the individual woman. During the course of the reconstruction surgery, our experienced surgeons evaluate the remaining tissues surrounding the breast area to ensure there are no abnormalities that need to be excised. Upon completing the surgery, drains may be placed for several days, after which they are removed in our office under local anasthesia.
The Recovery Process
Recovery time is dependent on which type of surgery you have performed. The tissue expander/implant process has a shorter recovery time from surgery but requires a two-step process. The DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery requires a longer recovery time but uses your own tissue, which lessens the need for possible revisional surgery that is likely with an implant reconstruction in the long term. During your preoperative preparation process at Texas Center for Breast and Body, we ensure that you have all the information and instructions you need to have a successful outcome from your surgery.
Contact us to discuss the possibilities of breast reconstruction in Houston, particularly after a mastectomy.
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Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Mark A. Schusterman, MD, FACS
Although his research and development of microsurgical reconstruction techniques established his reputation, his knowledge and understanding of the human body and the challenges associated with aiding patients suffering with head and neck injuries as well as breast cancer patients has made Dr.Schusterman an award-winning plastic surgeon.