Understanding the Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgeries

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One of the most devastating effects of breast cancer is mastectomy. Sometimes, patients are left with scars and a lack of feeling in the chest area due to nerve damage. This can lead to feelings of insecurity and low self-esteem.

Fortunately, there are three types of reconstructive surgery that can help restore some form of normalcy for women who have gone through this experience: implant reconstruction, flap reconstruction, or tissue expander/implant combination.

Types Of Breast Reconstruction Surgeries

There is a lot to unpack and understand about the different types of surgeries. It’s important that you understand fully all the reconstruction options available to you. Reconstruction surgery is something that each patient has to go over and decide for themselves. Each option will work better for some than others.

Implant Reconstruction

The patient is given a silicone implant, and the incisions are then closed at the end. This procedure can be completed in an hour or two with minimal complications, but it does have some limitations such as not being able to breastfeed if you plan on doing so down the line.

Flap Reconstruction

If you are a candidate, this surgery involves moving skin from the abdomen or thigh to close up where the nipple should be. This is done by taking tissue and reshaping it using stitches in order to provide an external appearance that mimics what was lost during chemotherapy or radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Tissue Expander/Implant Combination

To create this surgery, a tissue expander is inserted under the nipple to expand what’s left. The surgeon then adds silicone implants inside for additional volume. There are many benefits of a combination flap and implant reconstruction, such as it can be done at one time with no incision on the breast itself, or in some cases, there may not be any scars from this surgery.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Breast Reconstruction

Different types of breast reconstruction surgeries can help restore some form of normalcy for women who have gone through breast cancer treatment, but each one has its own pros and cons to consider before you make a decision.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Implant Reconstruction
  • This procedure can be completed in an hour or two with minimal complications, but it does have some limitations such as not being able to breastfeed if you plan on doing so down the line.
  • Some people report that the feeling in their nipples is not as they remember and there may be some numbness on occasion, but it does improve with time.
  • There can also be scarring at the incision site which will require a patient to have more frequent checkups than someone who had flap reconstruction.
  • A patient’s nipple sensation and appearance may take a long time to return.
  • The implant must be removed at some point in the future, which is another surgery that requires an incision into the skin as well as general anesthesia.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Flap Reconstruction
  • The patient is given a skin flap from the abdomen or thigh and tissue is reshaped using stitches in order to provide an external appearance that mimics what was lost during chemotherapy or radiation treatment for breast cancer.
  • A patient’s nipple sensation and appearance may take a long time to return, however, there are other benefits such as it can be done at one time with no incision on the breast itself, or in some cases, there may not be any scars from this surgery.
  • This is a common option for patients who want to have children down the line, as it does allow breastfeeding and provides better nipple sensation than if an implant were used instead.
  • There can be scarring at the incision site, which will require a patient to have more frequent checkups than someone who had flap reconstruction.
  • The implant must be removed at some point in the future, which is another surgery that requires incisions into the skin as well as general anesthesia.
  • Some people report that they feel less complete and more vulnerable after having this procedure, even though it does not have any visible scars in their breast or chest area.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Tissue Expander/Implant Combination
  • There are many benefits of a combination flap and implant reconstruction, such as it can be done at one time with no incision on the breast itself, or in some cases, there may not be any scars from this surgery.
  • The risks and side effects of anesthesia are still present even if the procedure is done without incisions.
  • Some people report that they feel complete after having a combination flap and implant reconstruction such as it can be done at one time with no incision on the breast itself or in some cases there may not be any scars from this surgery.
  • This option is more expensive than other options.

Breast reconstruction surgery is a complicated process that involves many factors. It’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type before making an informed decision for your specific needs. We hope this article has helped you learn more about breast reconstruction surgeries in order to make the best decisions possible for your unique circumstances.