Breast cancer surgery can impact your self-image. Thankfully, you have options for improving the look and feel of your breasts after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Advanced reconstruction procedures can restore your breast shape, size, and symmetry and facilitate emotional healing.
You have two main options for rebuilding your breasts: using implants or using your tissue, also known as autologous reconstruction. After your reconstruction, you may pursue secondary shaping surgeries to refine and enhance your results. No matter where you are on your breast reconstruction journey, there is hope for achieving the beautiful outcome you desire.
Many variables influence the right approach for your situation. Our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons will help decide which option or options are best for you during a consultation. We also partner with Denver-area oncologists, general surgeons, and hospitals to provide the quality, comprehensive care you need.
Call 303-706-1100 today to schedule your initial visit to The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery. We serve Denver, Lone Tree, and the surrounding areas of Colorado. Additionally, we welcome patients who travel to our practice from out-of-state.
Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction using implants is a standard option for rebuilding one or both breasts. With implant-based reconstruction, our surgeons place an implant of your desired size and style below the skin to recreate a breast mound.
This type of breast reconstruction is appealing to many women because it only involves surgery on the chest area. Additionally, implant procedures take less time to complete and offer a shorter recovery period than tissue-based surgeries.
Implants can often be placed immediately after mastectomy surgery. This is known as direct-to-implant or single-stage breast reconstruction. Sometimes, immediate placement is not an option due to the nature of your cancer treatment or other individualized factors. In those cases, a tissue expander is used at the time of mastectomy or after mastectomy to create enough space for the implant.
For our patients who choose implant reconstruction, we always place Alloderm® Tissue Matrix. This biocompatible material improves your healing process and aesthetic outcome.
Autologous Breast Reconstruction
Autologous breast reconstruction involves recreating one or both breasts using tissue from another part of your body. This method of reconstruction is known for providing natural-looking and feeling results.
Among the autologous options available, our surgeons prefer the DIEP flap approach. This procedure uses excess tissue from your lower stomach to recreate the breast. It does not impact the muscle and has the added benefit of giving a tummy tuck effect, meaning it leaves your stomach looking slimmer.
Similar to implant-based reconstruction, autologous reconstruction can be done immediately after your mastectomy. It can also be performed as an immediate-delayed procedure, beginning with expander placement at the time of your mastectomy. Lastly, it can be carried out years after your cancer removal procedure through delayed reconstruction. Many women also turn to tissue-based reconstruction to correct a failed or unaesthetic breast reconstruction performed elsewhere.
Some women choose to increase the volume of their autologous tissue results. In this combined approach, breast implants are placed within the breast reconstructed with tissue flaps.
Autologous reconstruction involves making an incision at the donor site, and the idea leaves some women feeling concerned about an additional scar. We offer embrace® scar therapy products to reduce the appearance of your breast reconstruction scars. These innovative silicone sheets prevent skin tension while softening and flattening the scar tissue.
Breast Shaping Options
Breast shaping procedures and techniques can help make your breasts look more symmetrical and realistic. Breast shaping can be done on a reconstructed breast or breast, or on a non-cancer breast as a matching procedure. Performed after your reconstruction, breast shaping includes:
- Nipple reconstruction
- Areola pigmentation, also known as nipple tattooing
- Fat grafting
- Breast lift or reduction on the opposite breast
We want you to enjoy the best results possible. If one of these techniques can enhance your final outcome, our plastic surgeons may suggest incorporating it.
What Type of Breast Reconstruction Is Best?
When it comes to the best type of breast reconstruction, personal preference, health conditions, and weight distribution all play a role. Both options can deliver fantastic aesthetic results and help you reconnect with your body after breast cancer.
Reasons many prefer implant reconstruction include:
- Numerous implant options: This allows you to choose the size, shape, and feeling of your breasts.
- Shorter surgery time: Implant-based surgeries typically take about three hours, while autologous procedures take around six hours.
- Easier recovery: Implant-based surgeries require shorter recovery stays, and overall a shorter recovery timeline.
- Too little tissue: If you’re very slim, you might not have enough excess tissue to perform a flap reconstruction.
Autologous reconstruction has different benefits, including:
- Uses your own tissue: This provides the most natural-feeling result. Your breasts will also grow and decrease in size with weight fluctuations keeping your physique proportional.
- Permanent results: Autologous breast reconstruction can provide lifelong results, but implants could need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.
- Smaller waistline: Your stomach will look firmer and flatter if donor tissue is taken from your abdomen.
Another major consideration is finding a qualified surgeon to perform autologous reconstruction. Because advanced techniques like DIEP flap surgery require special training, fewer surgeons can perform this type of reconstruction. At The Breast Center Park Meadows Plastic Surgery, our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons are highly skilled at implant and autologous reconstruction.
Will My Breast Reconstruction Timing Impact My Options?
After breast cancer treatments, many women choose to delay reconstruction. Whether you want a break from hospitals and recovery or need more time to consider your options, delaying breast reconstruction is a completely valid choice.
While some studies show immediate reconstruction can produce superior outcomes to delayed procedures, our experienced surgeons have performed countless delayed breast reconstructions with fantastic results.
Your surgeon may also recommend delaying reconstruction if your cancer treatment is ongoing. In this case, a staged approach to reconstruction might be taken. With this delayed-immediate style, a skin-sparing tissue expander can be placed after your mastectomy to hold the shape of the breast while you finish radiation or chemotherapy.
What Is the Most Popular Type of Breast Reconstruction?
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons found implant-based reconstruction is the most popular type by far, with 103,485 of the 137,808 women who underwent breast reconstruction in 2020 opting for implants. However, this disparity is likely due to a lack of surgeons trained in flap techniques.
Our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons, Dr. Jeremy Williams and Dr. Chris Williams, have advanced training in state-of-the-art microsurgical breast reconstruction (DIEP flap). Fewer surgeons have this expertise than those who perform implant-based reconstruction.
Can a Reconstructed Breast Get Cancer?
Unfortunately, it’s still possible to get breast cancer after reconstruction. If your axillary lymph nodes were free from cancer during your original mastectomy, the chance is low at 6%. However, your genetics and the types of cancer treatments you underwent can influence the odds of recurrence.
Your oncologist can make recommendations for screenings based on your unique risk factors. The good news is that breast reconstruction won’t prevent your doctor from finding or treating cancer if it returns.
Recovering From Reconstructive Breast Surgery
It is important to have a sense of what you can expect after breast reconstruction. In general, plan on staying in the hospital for one or two days. After returning home, you will need to adhere to certain post-operative care instructions and restrictions. Our surgeons will go over this information in detail during your consultation.
Most women start to feel better after a few weeks. Moderate activity is appropriate after two weeks, and strenuous activity can be resumed after approximately six to eight weeks.
Be aware that the specifics of your recovery will depend on the type of reconstruction you have. Other factors, such as the need for tissue expansion and the decision to undergo shaping surgeries, will also play a role.
Watch the Video Below for a Comprehensive Overview of Breast Reconstruction
Learn Which Breast Reconstruction Approach is Right for You
Finding the right breast reconstruction approach involves weighing personal preferences, the nature of your cancer treatment, and the time at which you wish to pursue surgery. We understand that this decision can seem overwhelming or confusing. Our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons are glad to work with you during this time to create the optimal plan for restoring your breasts.
After an evaluation and discussion, our surgeons will explain which of these reconstructive techniques are suitable for you. We want to make sure you have clear, honest, and accurate information about your candidacy for various procedures and what you can expect your final results to look like.
Schedule your consultation today by calling 303-706-1100. The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery serves Denver, Lone Tree, and the surrounding areas of Colorado.