Discover Your Options in Austin, TX
The decision to reconstruct a breast after cancer is a highly personal one. Women who choose to take this step are on a journey to recovery, and reconstruction is often a step that brings psychological healing and restoration of a woman's self-confidence. The importance of this process should not be underestimated. Choosing the right board-certified plastic surgeon is imperative to ensuring a positive experience and a superior outcome.
Dr. Christine Fisher has extensive experience working with breast cancer survivors to provide aesthetically beautiful reconstructive outcomes. To help her patients feel whole once more, Dr. Fisher works closely with each patient—as well as the patient's surgical oncologist and medical team—to create the surgical plan that will meet the patient's needs and expectations best, as well as safely address the cancer. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to breast reconstruction. Experienced in a broad range of techniques, including those she has perfected in her practice, Dr. Fisher is uniquely qualified to help women achieve beautifully natural results through reconstructive surgery. Whether you choose a flap technique that uses tissue from your own body or opt for an implant-based breast reconstruction, Dr. Fisher will work to ensure your outcome meets your expectations and your desired results. For some patients, a combination of the two techniques may be used to produce the best possible results.
Breast reconstruction with Dr. Fisher is about restoring what was lost to surgery or trauma to regain balance, proportions, and confidence. If a woman chooses reconstruction, she has a range of options to suit her needs. Learn more about any of the available techniques and strategies by clicking the link below, or read on for an overview of breast reconstruction with Dr. Fisher.
Reconstructive Surgery from a Woman's Perspective
To ensure all her patients receive a customized approach to their breast reconstruction, Dr. Fisher offers the full spectrum of options and techniques.
Breast reconstruction using flap techniques entails removing tissue from another area of the patient's body and using that to create the new breast(s). The specific procedure varies based on the donor site. Dr. Fisher performs the following flap techniques:
- DIEP Flap – an advanced method that uses excess lower abdominal skin and fat to reconstruct the breast without the need to remove muscle or damage surrounding nerves.
- SIEA Flap – similar to the DIEP flap technique in using abdominal skin and fat but uses blood vessels closer to the skin's surface.
- GAP Flap – this technique uses skin and fat from the buttock, producing a slight lift of the buttock after the tissue is removed.
- PAP Flap or TUG Flap – fat and skin are removed from the upper inner thigh or posterior thigh to reconstruct the breast, tightening and lifting the thigh; results in a donor site scar hidden in the groin or buttock crease.
- LD Flap – removes the skin, fat and latissimus muscle from the upper back to reconstruct the breast; recommended for patients that are not good candidates for another technique or who had radiation and need to bring non-irradiated tissue to the breast to cover an implant.
Breast Reconstruction Using Implants
Women who do not have sufficient tissue for a flap procedure or prefer not to use a flap reconstruction may choose to reconstruct the breast using silicone implants. The implants come in various sizes to accommodate various body proportions. In many cases, a tissue expander is placed first at the time of mastectomy to create an ideally shaped space for the implant. This staged approach requires more than one surgery to complete the reconstruction but can offer excellent results for the right patient. In a simpler second-step procedure, the tissue expander is removed and a silicone implant is placed. Typically, fat grafting is also done at this time to improve the natural appearance of the reconstructed breast.
Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
- Known for natural-looking aesthetic results in breast reconstruction and cosmetic surgery.
- Elected by peers for inclusion in Texas Monthly's Texas Super Doctors®: Rising Stars listing.
- Reconstructed over 6,000 patients, including more than 2,500 DIEP flap reconstructions.
- 4.9-star average rating over hundreds of reviews for reconstructive and cosmetic surgery.
FAQs About Breast Reconstruction
Women considering breast reconstruction understandably have many questions about the process. Dr. Fisher is happy to answer all of them at your consultation or subsequent appointments, but these are answers to some of the most common questions we hear in our office:
Breast reconstruction is a highly personal decision for a woman. While some do not choose this path, most do and find it is a critical component of their healing journey. Breast reconstruction restores the body after cancer surgery, which can boost a woman's confidence, sense of health and sense of femininity in many cases.
That is entirely up to you. Some women choose to begin the breast reconstruction process at the time of their mastectomy. With an immediate reconstruction a woman wakes up with tissue expanders, implants or a completed living tissue breast reconstruction, such as a DIEP flap reconstruction. Others are not emotionally or medically ready to undergo breast reconstruction until a point after that procedure. Dr. Fisher will help you determine the best course of action for you.
A staged procedure is performed in steps, which means you will undergo more than one surgery to complete the reconstructive process. In most cases, this applies to breast reconstruction surgeries where implants are involved. One procedure will be needed to place an expander, which is often done at the same time as the mastectomy. The expander will gradually be filled over the course of a few months to make room for the implant. At that time the expander will be removed and the final silicone implant will be placed through a second surgery.
Dr. Fisher will work with your oncologist and the breast cancer surgeon to determine the safest way to handle your reconstruction process, and keep you informed of all of your available reconstructive options, as well as their pros and cons. Rest assured that nearly all women can have reconstruction, due to the many options available in this procedure today.
That will depend on how your reconstruction is performed and whether a portion of it is done at the same time as your mastectomy. In most cases, women are back to the majority of their activities within four weeks. Strenuous exercise can generally be resumed after six to eight weeks.
If you are not a candidate for a nipple-sparing mastectomy, nipple reconstruction can help you achieve a more natural appearance to your breasts. This procedure is done using skin from the surrounding area to create a small nipple centered on the breast in a natural position. Nipple reconstruction can usually be done about three months after breast reconstruction surgery. Some patients prefer a nipple that does not protrude as a bump. For a smooth breast we recommend 3-D nipple-areolar tattooing for a natural result. Nipple-areolar tattooing creates a natural pigment and texture and can be done a few months after the last reconstructive procedure.
Download Our Breast Reconstruction Post-Operative Care Guides
We've compiled detailed post-operative care instructions to best equip our breast reconstruction patients throughout their recovery process. To ensure the best and safest recovery, your plan encompasses appropriate prescriptions and clear directions towards maintaining your comfort to get you back to normal life and activity as soon as possible. Individual patients respond uniquely, and the type of procedure may differ, but these basic guidelines will help you along your journey.
Restoring What Cancer Takes Away
The loss of one or both breasts due to cancer surgery, a congenital breast disorder or a heightened risk of breast cancer can be a stressful experience. For some, the breasts are seen as a sign of femininity, and when a woman loses this feature, it can impact her psychologically as well as physically. The process of reconstruction can be a vital step in the healing process for many women, allowing them to feel confident and regain a natural proportionate shape and a healthy look after breast cancer treatment.
With compassion, personalized attention and expert care, Dr. Fisher and her team will guide you through the reconstruction process. Her skills in both traditional implants and innovative flap techniques allow her to tailor your procedure to your unique situation based on a variety of factors. She will listen to your concerns and goals and guide you on your journey from breast cancer patient to breast cancer survivor.