The timing of your breast reconstruction can be a complex decision. There are many factors to consider, including your health, your cancer specifics, your goals, and any specific feedback from your breast oncologic surgeon, your medical and radiation oncologist, and your plastic surgeon.
During your consultation at The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery, your plastic surgeon will go over specific options with you. The final decision as to when to start your breast reconstruction may not be made at your initial consultation, but may involve further discussions with your oncology team and surgeons. Please call 720-457-4461 to arrange your initial strategy.
Breast Reconstruction Timing Options
When considering timing of your breast reconstruction, there are three strategies:
- Immediate breast reconstruction
- Delayed breast reconstruction
- Or a hybrid immediate-delayed breast reconstruction, also known as a “staged approach”
Immediate-delayed breast reconstruction specifically refers to a reconstruction that begins on the same day as the mastectomy. A tissue expander (or “place saver”) is placed into the mastectomy defect immediately after the general surgeon removes the breast. This is allowed to heal, and the patient goes on to receive chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After a period of recovery, the patient undergoes another surgery in which the tissue expander is removed and replaced with a tissue flap (patient’s own skin and fat).
Dr. Jeremy Williams and Dr. Christopher Williams often use this strategy for women who desire to use their abdominal fat for breast reconstruction but will require radiation therapy first. The tissue expander gives them, for a short period of time, a breast mound with which they feel comfortable rather than a mastectomy defect while they are progressing with their other therapies. The tissue expander also preserves a large amount of the native breast skin which usually provides a more aesthetic outcome in the breast reconstruction.
Advantages of Staged Breast Reconstruction:
- The timing of surgery can be optimized for the patient’s health status
- The native breast skin can be preserved while patient undergoes chemotherapy or radiation treatment
- Patients may consider their options carefully and there is no rush to decide on a technique
- The patient wakes up with some form of a breast mound
Disadvantages of Immediate-Delayed Breast Reconstruction:
- The patient requires at least one extra operation since the reconstruction was not combined with the mastectomy
- May not be the right option for locally advanced breast cancers
- May have a higher infection rate than a patient undergoing Immediate Reconstruction
- It is more challenging for women with larger breasts
From this point on, additional surgeries may be required to achieve final contouring and shape your surgeon desires; in addition, a nipple will be constructed, and then pigmentation is placed around the areola.
During your consultation, Dr. Jeremy Williams and Dr. Christopher Williams will discuss with you which option or options they think are best for you based on your unique situation. To schedule a consultation, please call 720-457-4461 or schedule an appointment online.