The American Cancer Society estimates that over 100,000 women have a mastectomy each year as a result of breast cancer. Physicians and lay people alike note that the deformities and scars resulting from this procedure can have a devastating emotional impact on the patient. Breast reconstruction is covered under most health insurance policies.
The most common surgical procedure to reduce the physical deformity following mastectomy is referred to as a breast reconstruction. This is a staged procedure, that is, the surgeon first inserts a tissue expander either at the time of the mastectomy or as a delayed procedure approximately three months later. As its name implies, the expander is designed to stretch existing tissue so that it may accommodate the presence of an implant inserted during a second procedure. Occasionally, a tissue expander is not required and the permanent implant may be inserted during the first operation. Lastly, in a subsequent procedure, the surgeon creates a nipple from existing tissue. In some cases, the surgeon may elect to perform a breast lift or breast reduction on the woman's opposite breast to create symmetry.
There are other techniques used in breast reconstruction, such as the transverse abdominal flap whereby the skin and fat from the abdomen which is normally discarded in a "tummy tuck" procedure is left attached to the muscle of the abdominal wall and is brought up to the chest defect to form the new breast. This procedure has the advantage of not requiring an implant in most patients. However, this is a much more complicated and extensive surgery requiring hospitalization and a prolonged recovery period. Therefore, most of my patients choose the tissue expander/implant reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction has become increasingly popular with mastectomy patients. Breast cancer not only leaves physical scars but emotional wounds as well. This surgery enables the patient to make the physical deformities associated with the disease far less obvious as the recovery process begins.
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Tresley offers plastic surgery in Chicago, Oak Brook and DuPage Illinois. All aspects of breast surgery offered - breast augmentation using saline breast implants, breast lift surgery, breast reduction and breast reconstruction.
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