What is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure designed to create natural-looking breasts after a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction can be performed either immediately after your mastectomy or years afterwards. There are two surgical approaches to breast reconstruction – autologous tissue reconstruction and breast implants. Both have pros and cons, and Dr. Lin and Dr. Cohen-Kashi can discuss these with you during your consultation.  Breast reconstruction is also commonly performed on women who suffer from breast irregularities.

Autologous tissue reconstruction is a reconstructive technique where fat and other tissue are removed from other areas of the body to recreate one or both breasts. This surgical technique is ideal for women who are uncomfortable with silicone or saline breast implants at North Shore Center for Plastic Surgery. Patients who receive radiation therapy may also opt for autologous tissue reconstruction, because it offers a more natural feel than breast reconstruction with implants and because there are fewer long-term complications. There are several surgical techniques that fall within this category of breast reconstruction surgery but the two most common are the TRAM Flap (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous) technique and the DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap technique.  Both techniques have their own risks and complications that Dr. Lin and Dr. Cohen-Kashi can review during your consultation, so you can make a well-informed decision as to which surgical technique is right for you.
The TRAM (Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous) flap technique involves transferring the skin and tissue from the lower abdomen, the rectus abdominis muscle in particular, to reconstruct the breast.
The DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator) flap technique is named for the blood vessel that supplies blood to the subcutaneous tissue of the lower abdomen and the skin. The DIEP flap technique is one of the most common microsurgical options for breast reconstruction for several reasons. Firstly, it does not involve any muscle (unlike the TRAM Flap technique) and therefore avoids any risks to the abdominal wall. Secondly, the DIEP Flap technique creates a similar look and feel as natural breast tissue. Thirdly, the results are more reliable, permanent, and avoid any of the disadvantages of breast implants.
  • Women who are seeking the natural-looking breasts they had prior to a mastectomy
  • Women who are in reasonably good health and have realistic expectations
  • Healthy, active, non-smoking patients with enough abdominal tissue to create a breast mound
  • Patients who have had or anticipate having radiation therapy

Autologous Breast reconstruction surgery is usually performed over a period of time. Dr. Lin and Dr. Cohen-Kashi will first create the breast mound. This can be done immediately after your mastectomy while you’re under anesthesia or years later. Most individuals who undergo breast reconstruction also have follow-up procedures that take place overtime to continue to reconstruct the breast.

Breast reconstruction with an implant can also start at the time of your mastectomy or months later.

There are several surgical options available for post-mastectomy reconstruction. Dr. Lin and Dr. Cohen-Kashi can discuss these options with you during your consultation.

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