Cosmetic Surgery

Cosmetic Surgery

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delayed breast reconstruction surgery

Unlike immediate breast reconstruction, delayed breast reconstruction does not begin at the time of your mastectomy. Delayed breast reconstruction surgery may begin weeks, months, or even years after your mastectomy. Your plastic surgeon will begin reconstructive surgery at whatever time you and your care team decides is best given your unique situation. Two-stage reconstruction is the only procedural option if you elect to have delayed reconstruction surgery because the skin over your chest will have contracted and lost the breast shape in the intervening time.

Delayed Reconstruction with a Breast Implant

Two-stage delayed breast implant reconstruction involves a combination of procedures to gradually expand the skin on your chest into the shape of a breast and create a pocket for the breast implant to occupy. Delayed breast reconstruction starts with the placement of a breast tissue expander. The breast tissue expander is gradually filled with sterile saline fluid to expand and grow your skin. Several months later the tissue expander is replaced with a breast implant, after enough new skin has been created to obtain the best result.

Potential Advantages of Delayed Breast Reconstruction Surgery

  • Some women find the breast cancer diagnosis to be overwhelming and would prefer to delay any decision-making that is not directly related to treating the cancer. Delayed reconstruction minimizes that added pressure by allowing patients to have more time to consider their reconstructive options.
  • Delayed reconstruction allows your team of physicians to expedite other cancer treatments - such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy - if healing difficulties with reconstruction are anticipated.

Potential Disadvantages of Delayed Breast Reconstruction Surgery

  • Because reconstruction is not begun when your mastectomy occurs, delayed reconstruction involves at least one more visit to the hospital.
  • Scarring from your mastectomy may make reconstruction more difficult.
  • Some women experience emotional distress related to the lack of a breast mound after a mastectomy.

It is important to understand that any breast reconstruction surgery (with or without breast implants) may require multiple procedures. Your surgeon may also recommend a procedure that provides better symmetry or balance between your breasts. These symmetry procedures for the unaffected breast can include breast augmentation with an implant, breast reduction (reduction mammoplasty), or a breast lift (mastopexy).

You may additionally desire to have nipple reconstruction. These minor, outpatient procedures help recreate your pre-mastectomy breast appearance. A variety of different techniques are used for these procedures. You should discuss your options with your plastic surgeon for best results.

The exact number of procedures and estimated recovery times will vary for every woman. Your general surgeon, plastic surgeon, and oncologist should work together as a team to plan your individual reconstructive process. As a reminder, it is important for you to know that the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, a federal law passed in 1998, ensures your right to have these types of symmetry procedures and nipple reconstruction covered by your health insurance provider.

This information provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. For medical questions, Consult a physician.

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