For breast cancer survivors, reconstruction surgery is an essential part of the healing process. The skill of your surgeon will determine how fully you recover the shape and feel of your breasts, and how quickly you can put the experience behind you. Trusted Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Marco Ellis understands the sensitivity and importance of this task, and is ready to add one final triumph to your victory over cancer.
Breast Reconstruction Procedures
Reconstruction surgery involves the use of either implants or your own tissue to recreate a natural breast shape. When implants are not used, the technique is referred to as flap-based reconstruction. The flap used to add volume to breasts is skin, muscle and fat that is surgically transferred from your back, buttocks or abdomen. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend both implants and flap-based reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction requires several surgeries, and usually extends from six months to a year. The series of procedures may be delayed at times if you are still receiving cancer treatments. Typically, the full process includes surgery to create a new breast, followed three months later by surgery to adjust the breast for appearance, balance and proportion. This step may need to be repeated once or twice, at three month intervals. The final step involves surgery to add a nipple and areola to the breast. This usually occurs two or three months after the final adjustment procedure.
Dr. Ellis is also skilled at breast reconstruction for lumpectomy patients. In this case, excess breast tissue can be used during the reconstruction process to fill in any indentations that were left by removing malignant tissue. Tissue flaps and fat grafting may also be appropriate options. Sometimes these procedures will result in a smaller breast, and so symmetry may need to be addressed with a subsequent procedure.
Achieving Natural Balance
Perfect symmetry can be difficult to attain without operating on both breasts. The existing breast may be adjusted through the use of an implant, or with a breast reduction or breast lift procedure. Experienced Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Ellis recommends that any surgery done on the healthy breast be performed only after your newly created breast has healed, usually in about three to six months. At that time, the final shape and position of the reconstructed breast will be apparent, allowing more precise matching.
It is also best to wait until you are finished with radiation therapy before undergoing breast reconstruction. Radiation impacts the healing process and can negatively affect the aesthetics of your final result. This is especially true if you are using an implant as part of breast reconstruction. Radiation applied to a breast with an implant can cause a variety of complications, such as infection, accumulation of fluid, and severe capsular contracture, in which scar tissue hardens around the implant.
To learn more about breast reconstruction options, schedule your personal consultation with experienced Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Marco Ellis today.