Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Breast reconstruction surgery is intended to help restore breast shape after mastectomy or lumpectomy. It’s natural to develop negative feelings about giving up a significant part of your body or identity. Breast reconstruction surgery can be physically and emotionally rewarding for women who have lost their breasts due to cancer or other conditions.
Breast reconstruction is a process. It typically involves multiple procedures that are carried out in stages. Reconstruction could begin during or shortly following mastectomy.
Breast Reconstruction Options
The look and feel of the breast can be restored with various reconstruction methods. The two main types of breast reconstruction – implant-based and autologous – involve different procedures and results.
Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction
This technique for reconstruction involves inserting an implant filled with silicone or saline to rebuild and shape the breast mound. First the breast is expanded using a breast expander. The expander is inflated to your desired size and shape. Then the breast expander is exchanged in a second surgery for the permanent implant. Of the types of implants, silicone is sometimes thought to look and feel more like natural breast tissue and is the preferred breast implant for reconstruction. Implant reconstruction is a simpler procedure and usually requires less recovery than autologous reconstruction.
Autologous (or ‘Flap’) Reconstruction
Autologous or “flap” reconstruction uses tissue transplanted from another body part and sometimes also requires an implant. This approach requires a more challenging surgical technique and a longer recovery, but, if done well, flaps can last longer than implants.
The “DIEP Flap” is a common autologous flap. This flap is taken from the skin and fat in the lower abdomen and is used to form the breast. During the DIEP Flap procedure, the muscle and abdominal wall are spared to prevent problems with hernias and bulges after surgery.
The DIEP Flap can provide soft, natural breasts that are long-lasting and require less maintenance compared to implants. This procedure also includes the benefit of improving the lower abdominal region, similar to a tummy tuck.
There are other autologous flaps available for breast reconstruction that can be taken from the back, buttocks, and thigh, as well.
Because no two bodies are alike, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider first to decide if surgery is right for you. Schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic to learn more about breast reconstruction options in the Houston area.
Breast Reconstruction Cost
Typically, health insurance plans that cover mastectomy should also cover the cost of breast reconstruction surgery. It’s important to check if, and how much of, the cost could be covered by your insurance plan and to consider other payment methods to find the most affordable option for you.
Additional information is available from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and with a one-on-one consultation with a Kelsey-Seybold Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics specialist.