Breast Reconstruction Options
After having a lumpectomy or mastectomy, you may have lost more than one or both of your breasts. You may feel that not only do you no longer have a part of your body, you are now missing a part of your identity. Breast reconstruction by Dr. Garrett Wirth can help you get back to who you were before cancer—and uncover who you still are.
When considering breast reconstruction, it is important to remember that you have many options. You and Dr. Wirth will make the initial decision of whether or not you want to move forward with breast reconstruction after an initial consultation. It is critical to communicate your expectations, concerns and goals when discussing if you are a good candidate for breast reconstruction. If you decide to proceed with the surgery, Dr. Wirth will help you determine the type of reconstruction that you should choose.
There are two main types of breast reconstruction: implant and flap. Implant reconstruction involves using an implant that is filled with either silicone, saline or a combination of both. Flap reconstruction uses tissue from another part of your body to be transferred to your breast. The tissue can come from your abdomen, thighs, buttocks or back. There are positive and negative features of each option, as you will see.
A positive aspect of implant reconstruction is that it is less invasive than flap reconstruction. Implants are less invasive because they do not require additional surgery outside of the chest area. You might choose implant reconstruction if you know that you will not require radiation therapy, as radiation can alter the aesthetic look of your breasts. Your implant results will be immediate, however, the implants typically need to be replaced every 10-20 years. In contrast, flap reconstruction lasts for the duration of your life.
There are several types of flap reconstruction. Dr. Wirth will inform you of the pros and cons regarding the type of flap you have decided on (i.e. where your tissue is being taken from). After you use tissue from your chosen region, you cannot take tissue from there again. It is also important to understand that your flaps will change as your body does, so if you gain or lose weight, your flaps will adjust accordingly.
Implant reconstruction surgery should take about an hour to complete, whereas flap reconstruction procedures range from one to up to twelve hours. The length of your flap reconstruction procedure varies based on where you are getting the tissue from. Your recovery also depends on the type of surgery you and Dr. Wirth have chosen. If you select flap reconstruction, your recovery may be slightly more extensive due to the fact that you have had more than one area of your body operated on.
You should also consider that all of these options will likely require follow up appointments after your procedure. Therefore, it is crucial that you choose a surgeon that is experienced and who understands your needs and goals. Dr. Wirth is happy to assist you every step of the way on your breast reconstruction journey!