After a breast cancer diagnosis, the idea of reconstruction after breast cancer is a subject that’s close to every woman’s heart. The first step in enjoying the most natural-looking results involves understanding your candidacy for reconstructive breast surgery.
Regarded as one of the best breast cancer surgeons in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, Dr. Ricardo A. Meade understands just how important breast reconstruction can be as part of the emotional and physical healing process following breast cancer treatment. In addition to reconstructive breast surgery, Dr. Meade offers a full range of cosmetic breast enhancement procedures for patients as well. He is a board certified plastic surgeon who has performed hundreds of reconstructive procedures.
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding on whether to move forward with breast reconstruction. Most reconstructive surgery techniques involve several procedures spaced a few months apart. In some cases, breast reconstruction surgery can be used to improve irregular contours after a lumpectomy. In others, it can be performed following a total or modified (skin-sparing or nipple-sparing) mastectomy in one or both breasts.
Women who smoke, or who have diabetes or high blood pressure, are vulnerable to increased risk of complications during surgery and recovery. Because of the complex nature of breast reconstruction, ensuring optimum healing in between procedures is critical to a positive outcome.
Your consultation is an opportunity to learn more about breast reconstruction options and talk with Dr. Meade about your goals and hopes for the procedure. While it can be overwhelming to coordinate your breast cancer treatment and at the same time consider reconstructive procedures, many women find that looking forward to feeling “whole” again provides them with positive motivation through a challenging time.
Dr. Meade and his nurse will evaluate your candidacy for breast reconstruction in general and certain reconstructive techniques specifically by evaluate your health history and examining the condition of your breasts. You will learn more about the risk of certain complications associated with breast reconstruction surgery and find out what to expect during surgery and throughout the recovery process.
There are many choices that Dr. Meade can discuss with you. You may be a candidate for only one reconstructive technique or may have options to decide which technique you are most comfortable with.
Some women will have the choice of immediate vs. delayed reconstruction. Immediate reconstruction means only one surgery rather than several, and is best for women who have undergone a more conservative, skin-sparing mastectomy. Candidates for delayed reconstruction may need or prefer to wait for reconstruction until completing additional treatments for their health, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
Implant-based breast reconstruction is the most commonly performed option available. Candidates for reconstruction using breast implants have sufficient breast tissue to create a surgical pocket, and don’t want (or are not able) to use their own tissue for reconstruction. Breast implant reconstruction is better suited to women who have not undergone radiation treatment, and is often used in older patients.
Candidates for tissue-based breast reconstruction use their own tissue (sometimes combined with an implant as well) as the foundation for the new breast mound. The best results for TRAM flap, latissimus dorsi or DIEP flap reconstruction are seen in candidates who need unilateral reconstruction (performed on one breast only), as flap reconstruction feels and looks more natural when compared to your existing breast.
Reconstruction of breasts with fat grafts after lumpectomy and irradiation involves the use of stem cells. The layer of fat just beneath the skin is a rich source of stem cells – cells that have not yet developed into specialized cell types. One of the goals of this approach is to stimulate them to develop into new fat cells. Fat is removed from your body, typically the abdomen or hips, and the stem cells it contains are then isolated, mixed in with the remaining fat, and injected into the site of the breast lumpectomy defect.