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Reconstruction After Breast Cancer

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The plastic surgeons at Baystate Health are experts in breast reconstruction. Using the latest techniques – including the DIEP flap procedure – we can help you achieve the results you hope for.

Breast reconstruction after cancer treatment includes procedures that restore your breast to their previous shape, size, and appearance. Surgery can also help your breasts appear more symmetrical.

There are many factors that go into assessing the right surgical option for you. These include the type of mastectomy or lumpectomy you had, your body type, and your personal preferences.

Your care team will discuss your options with you. We’ll also help you schedule procedures at the right time.

BREAST RECONSTRUCTION OPTIONS

Breast reconstruction procedures fall into two broad categories: implant reconstruction and flap reconstruction.

Implant Reconstruction

This type of surgery is usually done in two parts. First, your plastic surgeon places a temporary implant called a tissue expander. This is usually done immediately after a mastectomy, during the same operation.

The second procedure typically takes place roughly six months or more after the first. Your plastic surgeon replaces the tissue expander with a saline-filled or silicone-filled implant.

Recently, fat grafting has become a way to enhance breast reconstruction. Your surgeon transfers fat from your stomach area to your breast in order to help add natural-looking volume under the skin.

Flap Reconstruction

With this kind of procedure, your plastic surgeon will reshape your breast using your own skin, fat, and muscle. Tissue is usually taken from your abdomen (stomach) or back.

A relatively new flap surgery called the deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap procedure uses your abdominal skin and fat, but not your muscle. It’s known as a “muscle-sparing” surgery.

If you’re considering having breast reconstruction surgery, discuss your options with your nurse navigator, breast surgeon, and plastic surgeon before you schedule any type of breast surgery.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY

  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • What will be expected of me to get the best results?
  • Where and how will you perform my procedure?
  • What surgical technique is recommended for me?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
  • How are complications handled?
  • What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the outcome?
  • Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for this procedure, and what results are reasonable for me?

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