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Women that have lost one or both of their breasts to cancer have experienced substantial physical and emotional pain as a result of their cancer treatment. Although breast reconstruction procedures can't make up for the trauma that cancer survivors have endured, they can minimize the sense of loss that women feel after undergoing a mastectomy. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and a mastectomy is the recommended course of treatment, Kennesaw breast reconstruction surgeons Marcus Crawford and Steven Bailey can rebuild your breasts using breast implants and/or your body's own natural tissues.
Reconstruction Using Implants
Our Atlanta breast reconstruction surgeons perform implant-based breast reconstruction in two stages, which are generally spaced several months apart. During the first operation, the tissue expander is placed in the chest; you can also elect to have muscle and fat moved to the breast area at this time. In the second surgery, the tissue expander is removed and replaced with breast implants.
The first step of the breast reconstruction method involves the placement of a tissue expander in the breast pocket. Depending on your personal cancer diagnosis, the tissue expander may be inserted at the time of your mastectomy, or after you have completed chemotherapy and your cancer is in remission. The deflated tissue expander is placed under the skin on the chest wall and will be used to stretch the skin out after surgery, in preparation for the implant.
Latissimus Flap Technique
After the tissue expander is placed, the surgeon may transfer some of your latissimus dorsi muscle and skin from your back to the breast. This approach, known as the Latissimus Flap technique, produces more natural looking results in patients because the tissue and fat is placed over the tissue expander. The extra coverage over the tissue expander, and eventually the implant, makes the breasts look and feel more natural.
After you have recovered from the mastectomy and tissue expander operation, you will meet with the surgeon for regular appointments scheduled one to two weeks apart. During these appointments, the surgeon will inject a saline solution into the tissue expander to gradually stretch out the skin so it can accommodate an implant. Three to six months after your initial surgery, the surgeon will replace your tissue expander with silicone or saline breast implants during an outpatient operation.
Tissue-Based BreAst Reconstruction
For certain patients, reconstruction can be performed using skin, fat, and muscle. The TRAM flap method is the most commonly performed technique for women that wish to undergo breast reconstruction surgery using their own tissues.
TRAM Flap Technique
The TRAM (transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous) Flap breast reconstruction technique is performed in two stages. The first involves the transfer of muscle, fat, tissue, and skin from the lower abdomen to the chest wall. From there, the surgeon can reshape the mound to produce the appropriate amount of breast contour. Patients that undergo the TRAM flap technique can expect to have some scarring on the lower stomach with a longer recovery period than the above described techniques.
About three to six months after your first breast reconstruction surgery, we will have you return to our office to determine if additional breast surgery is needed. At that time, the surgeon will refine the breast shape and work to make the breasts look as symmetrical as possible.
The DIEP Flap breast reconstruction is a micro-surgical technique that is less invasive and offers patients serval advantages over the TRAM Flap technique: preservation of the abdominal muscle, quicker recovery, less scaring, and more natural looking results. Learn more.
Breast Symmetry Surgery
The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to achieve improved breast symmetry in clothing. If surgical treatment is performed for one breast and not the other, any surgical procedure required to improve the patient’s breast symmetry is considered a vital part of the breast reconstruction process. Often times this requires a breast lift, reduction, or insertion of an implant in a natural breast to improve the symmetry between the natural breast and the breast treated for cancer. Surgeries such as these to achieve symmetry are covered by health insurance plans and can be performed at any time following a prior treatment for breast cancer.
Breast Reconstruction Consults
Contact our practice today to schedule a breast reconstruction surgery consultation.