Reconstructing one or both breasts after cancer can help restore self-confidence and positive body image after cancer. Many women find breast reconstruction an important part of the healing process.
Dr. Marco Ellis is one of the most sought-after breast reconstruction surgeons in Chicago. If you have faced or are facing breast cancer and want information about your reconstructive options, Dr. Ellis is happy to speak with you during an in-person consultation. He will help you find the approach that is right for you.
Breast Reconstruction Treatment Options
There are a few different ways to restore the form and shape of the breasts after cancer surgery. Your anatomy, goals and cancer treatment plan will influence the approach recommended to you. There are pros and cons of each, all of which Dr. Ellis will review with you.
One option is implant-based reconstruction, in which saline or silicone implants are placed to recreate the look of one or both breasts. Implant-based reconstruction may require two or three procedure steps, including the use of a tissue expander device to create room inside the chest wall to accommodate the breast implant. The expander is gradually filled with saline to stretch the skin and muscle envelope. After wearing a tissue expander for a few months, you will undergo a procedure to replace the expander with the implant.
Another reconstructive option is flap-based reconstruction, in which a flap of your own skin, fat and muscle is used to recreate one or both breasts. The flap may be taken from your back, abdomen or buttocks. It may remain attached to the underlying muscle and be tunneled under the skin to the chest, or removed and transplanted to the chest. Flap-based reconstruction is considered to be a more complex approach than implant-based reconstruction, and may require a short hospital stay and a longer recovery.
The third option is to reconstruct the breasts using a combination of your own tissue and implants.
The timeframe for breast reconstruction depends on the type of reconstruction chosen and the cancer treatment plan.
Sometimes breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as a mastectomy; in other cases, it may be performed at a later date. Some treatment plans can be completed in a single surgery; others require several surgeries spaced out over a few months up to a year.
If only one of your breasts requires reconstruction, Dr. Ellis may recommend breast lift, breast reduction or breast augmentation for the opposite breast so that the breasts look symmetrical and balanced. This procedure may be performed at a later date on an outpatient basis.
Normally the last stage of breast reconstruction is to recreate the nipple and areola. Skin grafting and other techniques can be used to reproduce a very natural-looking nipple-areolar complex.