If you are faced with a double mastectomy, it is only natural that you will start to research all of your available options after the surgery is complete. When you want to have breast reconstruction, taking the time to learn all about it and understanding what you may be facing will be the best way to ensure you get the result that you are hoping for.
There are a number of women who will have a double mastectomy to remove both of their breasts for the treatment, or the prevention, of cancer.
Following the surgery, many will have the option of regaining the shape of the breasts that were removed by way of surgical reconstruction. The breasts are able to be rebuilt with the help of implants, or they maybe constructed using autologous tissue, which is basically tissue from another area on the body. In some instances, there will be a mixture of implants and the autologous tissue used to recreate the breasts.
The surgery to have breast reconstruction can usually be started at the same time that the mastectomy takes place. This is what is referred to as immediate reconstruction. It can also be done once the incisions from the mastectomy has healed and all of the breast cancer treatments are completed. This is what is known as a delayed reconstruction, and it can take place months or years after the mastectomy is complete.
For the final stage of the reconstruction of the breasts, an areola and nipple may be created on the reconstructed breast if they were not able to be preserved when the mastectomy took place.
How Implants Are Used
The surgeons will place the implant under the chest muscle or skin following the surgery for the mastectomy. When a reconstructed breast is the goal, the mastectomy will be performed using skin-sparing, where most of the breast skin will be saved to be used for reconstruction. In the first stage of the implant placement, a tissue expander will usually be used to ensure there is enough space under the skin or chest muscle. This will require follow up visits with saline injections to keep the shape and stretch the area.
With the second stage, after the tissue of the chest has relaxed and healed, the expander is taken out and the implant is put into place. For most patients, the tissue will be ready for the implant about two to six months after the mastectomy.
With an autologous tissue breast reconstruction, a section of tissue that includes the fat, skin, and blood vessels will be taken from another portion of the body. This is often referred to as a flap. Different sites could be used in the procedure, with popular areas being the back, abdomen, buttocks or thigh. The method that is used for reconstruction will depend upon the surgeon and your individual case. However, the goal will be to give you a natural looking breast while using living tissue from your body for a rewarding result that is free of any implants.