Regain Volume Lost After a Mastectomy in Austin, TX
A diagnosis of breast cancer changes life in an instant and is the beginning of a journey filled with medical tests and treatments to eliminate the disease. For many women, breast reconstruction is a critical step in the recovery process, both as a celebration of beating the disease and to produce a feeling of wholeness and health again. If you are one of these women considering reconstruction either before your mastectomy or after your mastectomy is completed, reconstruction with breast implants from Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery may be a choice for you.
Many options exist for breast reconstruction after mastectomy, and nearly all patients are candidates for some form of breast reconstruction. The decision to reconstruct a breast due to the loss of the breast to cancer, the presence of the BRCA gene for breast cancer, or damage caused by radiation or infection is a highly personal one. Your reconstructive plastic surgeon will listen to your goals and concerns so that she can work with you, your oncologist, and your breast cancer surgeon to develop a safe treatment plan that fits your body type and your lifestyle, whether that includes breast implants or not.
Our breast reconstruction team is made up of plastic surgeons experienced at both traditional and advanced reconstruction techniques, including breast implants. For some women, advanced breast reconstruction techniques can be used to achieve superior results using their own living tissue to restore the size and shape of the breast(s). No matter what type of breast reconstruction you choose, our team promises the highest level of patient care and the best possible aesthetic outcome for primary breast reconstruction for all the women who consult with us.
Is Reconstruction with Breast Implants Right for You?
Many women choose a breast implants-based route for breast reconstruction. Factors to consider when weighing this option include:
- You have sufficient healthy breast skin to create a pocket for the breast implant
- Your slender frame does not provide adequate donor tissue for a flap (living tissue) procedure
- You do not want the additional donor site incisions on the abdomen or thigh to remove donor tissue
- You prefer to avoid flap reconstruction for other reasons
- You are willing to have surgery on
- your healthy breast also to improve symmetry between the two breasts
- You will not be undergoing radiation treatment that can significantly affect the short- and long-term success of a procedure involving breast implants
Reconstruction using breast implants can be performed at the time of the mastectomy or at a point after the mastectomy is completed. The choice is yours but may be impacted by whether you will have additional cancer treatment after surgery or other variables specific to your situation. Your plastic surgeon will discuss your desires and expectations to help you choose the best approach and will work closely with your surgical oncologist to ensure the best possible outcome.
The Value of a Personal Touch
Our team's commitment to patient education on reconstruction with breast implants and other procedures is evident throughout this site and in every visit with our surgeons. Patients who choose Austin Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery will come to find that their plastic surgeon wants to get to know them as individuals, as well as to provide honest answers to any of their questions about what to expect before, during, and after surgery.
Options in Reconstruction with Breast Implants
Our reconstructive plastic surgeons use silicone breast implants for patients seeking breast reconstruction due to their more natural look and feel. Long-term safety studies have established the safety of silicone breast implants. These silicone breast implants come in both teardrop (anatomical) and round shapes, each of which will produce a slightly different effect. Your surgeon will help you determine the right shape for you based on your body proportions and your desired result to give you a natural, balanced appearance.
Your Surgery Experience
There are a variety of steps that will be involved in your reconstruction using breast implants:
Your Consultation to Discuss Reconstruction with Breast Implants
Your initial meeting with your plastic surgeon is a long visit, which is spent discussing your lifestyle and reconstruction goals and answering your questions to determine the best course of action for your breast reconstruction. Your surgeon will take a full medical history including a complete summary of your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment path. Your surgeon will discuss your expectations and the options for reconstruction surgery, including breast implants, so that she can achieve your desired outcome. Our hope is that you leave this appointment feeling comfortable with your choice to proceed with breast reconstruction and that you understand the specific course you will take to rebuild and restore your breasts after cancer surgery.
The First Day of Your Reconstruction Surgery with Breast Implants
For many patients, the first step in breast reconstruction involves the placement of a breast tissue expander underneath the breast skin, which is often done at the same time as the mastectomy. This breast-shaped device features an easy-to-access port so that it can regularly be adjusted to create sufficient space for the breast implant. This inflatable device is wrapped in a regenerative support scaffold called AlloDerm® and placed under the mastectomy skin. Our surgeons prefer to place expanders on top of the pectoralis (chest) muscle to get a safe and more natural-looking result. They feel that this is a less invasive breast implant reconstruction option, which avoids a dynamic deformity of the breast with arm movement. Rarely, it may be placed under the pectoralis muscle if oncologically necessary.
Surgery to insert the expander takes about two hours, and your surgeon will inject a long-lasting pain-blocking medication to reduce postoperative pain. Most patients go home the same day as surgery. Several drains are placed into the breast during this surgery and will remain for one to two weeks to prevent fluid buildup and infection in the surgical site.
Depending on the desired size of your new breasts, the tissue expander will be adjusted every one to two weeks at our office through the addition of saline through the port. The expander is gradually inflated like a balloon over a period of a few months until the skin and muscle can accommodate your desired implant size.
Second Step of the Surgery for Reconstruction with Breast Implants
During a second surgical procedure, which usually occurs about three months after the first procedure, the tissue expander is removed, and a breast implant is placed in the pocket that was created by the expander. The AlloDerm® scaffold strengthens the pocket and helps create a better aesthetic result.
In addition to breast implants, fat grafting may also be recommended to improve the thickness of the mastectomy skin and enhance the aesthetic contour of the reconstructed breasts, especially at the upper breast and cleavage. This two-step procedure involves removing fat cells from one area of the body like the abdomen or thighs via liposuction. The extracted fat is processed and then injected in small doses in three dimensions into the breast tissue to create a soft and smooth contour in areas of the breast that may appear dimpled or recessed. Fat injections typically offer very long-lasting results.
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.
Nipple Reconstruction After Mastectomy
When reconstruction with breast implants can be performed with a nipple-sparing mastectomy, it produces an exceptionally natural-looking result. If a patient is a candidate for nipple-sparing mastectomy, the mastectomy surgeon removes the gland and duct through an incision hidden along the fold of the breast. For these patients, the nipples can be preserved, and breast implants can be placed underneath the skin to replace the volume lost.
If the nipples must be removed as part of the cancer surgery, the patient can have nipple reconstruction if desired three months after the surgery for breast implants. The new nipple is generally constructed of surrounding skin at a natural location on the breast. Three-dimensional areola tattooing is also available in the office to add color to the areola and the appearance of texture to the reconstructed nipple. Tattooing can be done in the office three months after the last surgery.
Overview of Recovery after Reconstruction with Breast Implants
Your surgeon will provide you with clear post-operative instructions after your reconstruction with breast implants to keep you comfortable and lower your risk for complications. Some swelling and bruising is common and will subside within a few weeks. You will have a prescription for pain medication to take for the first few days, and a surgical bra will provide you with additional support and comfort and limit swelling. Your surgeon and our postoperative care staff will see you regularly in our office to ensure your recovery is progressing well.
Recovery from the surgeries involved with reconstruction with breast implants will vary depending on many different factors, such as whether you have the reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy and whether you are having the expander placed. Most women are back to their day-to-day activities within about two weeks, with strenuous exercise restricted for at least one month, so the surgical sites have plenty of time to heal fully. Your surgeon will advise you throughout your recovery process on when it is safe to resume specific activities.
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.
Results that Last
For the right patient, reconstruction using breast implants can be an effective way to restore your body and your self-confidence after your cancer diagnosis and treatment. Our reconstructive plastic surgeons specialize in breast reconstruction and offer a broad spectrum of techniques, so they can customize your surgery to create the aesthetic look you want. Your surgeon will work closely with your oncology team as well to ensure your reconstruction does not compromise your treatment in any way.