Reconstructive breast surgery is now a commonly sought after procedure by numerous women. Breast reconstruction is highly desired after the breast is removed for cancer. The final goal of reconstructive breast surgery is to restore symmetry in terms of size and shape between the two breasts.
Reconstruction of the breast after mastectomy is not desired by all women and no two women ever get the same desired results.
Some women prefer to wear and external prosthesis such as a pad or a fake breast to cover the missing breast and other women just go on with life without worrying about it.
However, there are a significant number of younger women who prefer reconstruction of the breast.
Today, plastic surgery has become a delicate art and advances in microsurgery and muscles flaps have provided a variety of options for women who want breast reconstruction.
The decision, however, is a personal one and often not easy to make.
Because breast reconstruction after mastectomy for cancer is considered part of the disease, the majority of medical insurance carriers pay for the procedure.
Breast reconstructive surgery not only influences the outward physical profile but also enhances the emotional well being.
The timing of breast reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy is entirely dependent on the patient's desire. One can have breast reconstruction right after the mastectomy or wait a few months/years before having the procedure
The advantages of a simultaneous reconstruction and mastectomy are:
- less expense
- less risk of a second anesthesia
- lesser anxiety
Sometimes a delayed reconstruction is necessary if the patient still has to undergo radiation or chemotherapy to the breast.
Even though it is desirable to have the original nipple and areola during a mastectomy. This is not always possible. Leaving behind potential foci of cancer is not recommended. In addition, leaving the nipple and areola behind during breast cancer surgery, increase the chance of recurrence.
Not all women undergo reconstruction of the nipple and areola.
Some women do undergo nipple and areolar reconstruction at a later stage. This usually allows the breast tissue to settle so that only minor surgical modifications are necessary.
The delayed nipple and areolar reconstruction is usually a minor procedure and done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. The tissue and skin for the nipple reconstruction is taken from the surrounding newly reconstructed breast. The darkening of the surrounding skin to mimic the areolar is usually done by tattooing at a much later date.
In some cases, a prosthetic nipple can be attached to the reconstructed breast. The prosthetic nipple is made to look like the breast in color and consistency. It is typically attached to the breast with glue. It can stay on for a week at a time.