Breast reconstruction surgery marks the final phase of the recovery process following breast cancer treatment for many women. Even though they have undergone mastectomy treatment, they should know there are numerous reconstruction surgeries available to fully restore the look and feel of the breasts back to a natural state. Cosmetic breast surgeons, Dr. David A. Jansen and Dr. Ravi Tandon, uses various methods of breast reconstruction to build the breasts to a shape and size that women can be happy with. They commonly uses the Diep Flap technique, as well as the implant-based, lap dorsi, tram, and other effective methods. Thankfully, breast reconstruction is now a huge part of the recovery process, and the restoration discussion occurs early in the treatment phase. Breast reconstruction surgery is a tailored procedure that can allow a woman to feel beautiful and whole again.
Things to Consider
During your first consultation to discuss reconstruction surgery, it is important to disclose where you are in the treatment process and which cancer surgeon is treating you, as well as provide any necessary pathology reports. The reconstruction process may take place in multiple steps if the breast tissue needs to be stretched to make room for implants. This discovery phase will help guide the reconstruction process so patients end up with a new breast that is the size, shape and look they want.
Breast Reconstruction Reviews
"Dr. Jansen has done 5 procedures for me for cancer since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and 2002. Each time Dr. Jansen's technique, bedside manner, teaching, follow-up, and care by him and his staff are superior!! I am a nurse and I can tell you this is the best care I have ever received and I have worked for, and gone to many physicians. I have a complicated medical history and Dr. Jansen's knowledge and expertise as well as a true obvious love for what he does makes him the only plastic surgeon I will ever see!"- P.H. / Vitals / May 14, 2013
"Highly skilled, thorough and compassionate You can look around and I seriously doubt you would find a better plastic surgeon and caring person. I was diagnosed with breast cancer - traumatic experience to say the least. His consult was extremely thorough. I am midway thru reconstruction/have no regrets. Dr. T. takes excellent care of me and he is the reason my spirits have been so high thru this cancer diagnosis. Love the entire staff. I drive across the lake and would triple the distance ."- C.V. / Healthgrades / Aug 30, 2016
"Dr Tandon was refered to me by Dr John Colfry for reconstruction surgery after a double mastectomy. I found myself in the hands of a pleasant, caring human being with a good sense of humor. The results were better than I had expected. DR. Tandon was very precise in explaing the procedures and what I was to expect. The office staff is very nice, helpfull and very professional. I would recommend Drive. Tandon to anyone. One amazing human being, and one great surgeon. Elena White, patient 2016"- Anonymous / Healthgrades / Feb 16, 2017
"Dr. Tandon is a rarity these days - a physician who is not only an expert in his field with the hands of an artist, but one who is willing to spend time making sure his patient feels genuinely heard, whether it be doubts, fears or hopes. He is honest about the possible but in my case, he went above and beyond what this breast cancer survivor expected, impressing the other docs and nurses who have since seen his skillful work."- J.W. / Healthgrades / Feb 17, 2017
"Brilliant surgeon. Just completed breast reconstruction from bilat mastectomy. Dr. Tandon got me through the expansion process without any pain. I was able to keep my nipples and even hubby says the end result is beautiful. I am back to exercising again and lifting weights. My whole family love Dr. T, his assistant, Vera and his entire staff. A God Send to me. He has excellent rapport with his patients, very caring. Had me laughing/smiling thru all my visits. Thankyou! Northshore girl"- Anonymous / Healthgrades / Feb 17, 2017
Each reconstruction technique will be tailored according to the patient’s physical health, aesthetic goals, and personal preferences. There are many factors playing into the approach that will be taken. The ultimate goal is to ensure the patient is healthy and happy with their final breast results.
There are two primary categories of breast reconstruction techniques:
- Procedures that involve using a breast implant
- Procedures that are autologous (use the patient’s own body’s tissue to reconstruct and recreate the breast)
Reconstruction With Implants
Breast reconstruction using silicone or saline implants is a common approach that generally starts with the use of a tissue expander to help form a suitable pocket for an implant. The expander may be inserted after the mastectomy procedure or during the same operative session. Over the course of several months, the expander will slowly be enlarged using a sterile solution injected through a port residing under the skin. During the scheduled reconstruction surgery, the expanders are removed and replaced with permanent implants.
If there is limited tissue inside the breast, or limited skin on the outside, tissue may be used from another part of the patient’s body to supplement this loss. The most common areas to support this process are the buttocks, thigh or abdomen. This is an autologous approach to breast reconstruction. The TRAM flap (Transverse Rectus Abdominus Myocutaneous), the DIEP flap and SIEA flap techniques involve taking skin and fat from the abdomen and relocating it to the breast. The Latissimus Dorsi Flap is another common method using tissue from the patient’s back.
During a mastectomy, the nipple and areola often cannot be saved. The loss of one’s nipple and areola can be as unnerving as the removal of the breast itself. However, reconstruction techniques have advanced greatly, allowing plastic surgeons the opportunity to recreate these areas of the breast to give a natural, aesthetically appealing appearance. In a separate procedure, the nipple is created using existing breast skin or from the abdominal or latissimus flap. Using a tattoo technique, the areola is recreated with a skin graft taken from the thigh, abdomen or back.
Breast reconstruction surgery is performed under general anesthesia at an accredited surgical facility. Some patients may be required to stay in the hospital to be monitored for complications. Patients who have had reconstruction using a flap technique will usually be required to stay in the hospital for 2-5 days. The recovery process can be somewhat lengthy, but many view it as the final step in their cancer journey thus the experience can be very rewarding. Most women are thankful to have had the opportunity to restore their breasts and are satisfied with their results.
Plan Your Procedure
Breast Reconstruction FAQs
This is a very specialized surgery that requires extensive knowledge, skill and experience. It is very important to research and find a qualified and reputable plastic surgeon who has experience with breast reconstruction surgery.
Can I Delay This Surgery?
In many situations, it is recommended to start the reconstruction process at the same time as the mastectomy. Therefore, it is a good idea to have your breast cancer surgeon and your plastic surgeon begin communicating about the steps that will follow. An advantage of doing the procedure immediately is waking up from your mastectomy surgery with the reconstruction process in place. The soft tissue that surrounds the breast will heal simultaneously with the reconstruction, which can enhance the final results.
A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation as the breast did before the mastectomy. However, over time, some of this sensation will return to normal. This will depend on the extent of the reconstruction process and will vary by patient.