Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure which reconstructs a natural-looking breast following mastectomy, or breast removal, due to cancer or another disease. There are many different options available today in breast reconstruction. For this reason, the consultation process with Dr. Manchester is essential. He will discuss the various options available to you and develop a plan that best addresses your needs and desires.

You may be a candidate for breast reconstruction surgery if your cancer has been eliminated by mastectomy as far as can be determined. Depending on your preference, breast reconstruction can begin and sometimes even be completed immediately following your mastectomy surgery or it may begin years after your mastectomy.

Some techniques for breast reconstruction will take place in a hospital setting while others may be performed at Dr. Manchester’s clinic in San Diego, California. Local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be used depending on the individual technique. Some of the most common techniques used today include direct insertion of a high viscosity silicone implant, tissue expander, and flap surgery. In many cases, a series of procedures are performed over a period of time. However, some women may not require tissue expansion, in which case breast implants will be inserted first.

Skin expansion is a commonly used technique in which a balloon expander is inserted beneath the chest muscle following mastectomy. Over a period of several weeks to months, a salt-water solution is periodically injected through a tiny valve mechanism in order to fill the expander and stretch the breast skin. Once the skin is sufficiently stretched, the expander is removed and a breast implant is inserted. Flap surgery involves the creation of a skin flap from tissue taken from another part of the body such as the abdomen, back or buttocks. The tissue may remain attached to its original site and tunneled beneath the skin to the chest to create a pocket for an implant or sometimes the breast mound itself. In other cases, the flap may be surgically removed and then transplanted to the chest. In cases where the nipple has been lost, reconstruction of the nipple can be achieved through tattoo or grafting.

As with any surgery, many of the techniques for breast reconstruction can result in some discomfort, swelling and bruising. If you experience discomfort, this can be alleviated with medication. If surgical drains are inserted after surgery, they will likely be removed within one to two weeks. Full recovery from a combined mastectomy and reconstruction may take up to six weeks. However, when implants are inserted on their own without flap surgery, recovery times are usually less.


FAQ

What is breast reconstruction?
A-Breast reconstruction refers to several procedures which are performed to reconstruct a natural-looking breast which has been lost from mastectomy (breast removal) following cancer or other disease. A series of procedures is often required over a period of time and these may involve such techniques as skin expansion, flap surgery, insertion of an implant, and nipple reconstruction through tattoo or grafting. Surgery may take place immediately following mastectomy or years later.

How do I know if I’m a candidate for breast reconstruction?
A-If you have lost a breast due to cancer or other disease, you may be a candidate for reconstruction. As best as can be determined, your cancer should have been eliminated by mastectomy before undergoing reconstruction.

Where is the breast reconstruction procedure performed?
A-Some breast reconstruction procedures, such as creation of the breast mound, are performed in the hospital. Other procedures, such as the insertion of implants, can be performed by Dr. Manchester at his clinic in San Diego, California.

Click here to view more questions »