After Your Mastectomy: Reconstruction Options To Consider

When you're diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may suggest that you have a mastectomy to remove the tissue in the affected breast. In some cases, your doctor may even recommend that you have both removed as a precaution. In many cases, this surgery is done out of an abundance of caution to prevent the cancer from spreading into nearby lymph nodes and other tissue. If you require a mastectomy, here are a couple of options you can consider for reconstructive surgery when you are ready.

Reconstructive Surgery Timing

There are a few options when you're looking at reconstructive surgery. Your oncologist may recommend one over the other depending on your situation, so ask about your options before you make a commitment.

Immediate Reconstruction

During immediate reconstruction, the surgeon will begin the reconstruction process during your mastectomy. In this situation, he or she may be able to save enough of the breast tissue to move it for reconstruction.

Delayed Reconstruction

Delayed reconstruction is a reconstructive surgery process that's not started until after you've healed from the mastectomy and completed your cancer therapy, if necessary. This gives your body time to focus on fighting the cancer cells and recover before you undergo any more surgical procedures.

Combination Reconstruction

In a combination process, the surgeon places a tissue expander under the skin during the mastectomy process to preserve the space for an implant. If you don't need radiation treatments, the doctor can place the implant the same day. In cases where radiation is required, you'd have the implant placed once all of the treatments are finished.

Reconstruction Options

In addition to different options for surgical timing, you also have a few options when it comes to the reconstruction itself. Understanding each one is key to choosing which is right for your condition.

Implant Reconstruction

During implant reconstruction, a saline implant is placed in the space where the breast tissue is removed. Implants are typically placed after recovery, but an expander is installed during the mastectomy so that it can create space for the saline. Once the tissue has healed sufficiently, the expander is removed and a saline implant is put into its place. The healing time can vary from patient to patient, but your doctor can tell you what time frame you could expect for the implant.

Natural Tissue Reconstruction

In a natural tissue reconstruction process, your own tissue will be drawn from somewhere else on your body and used for the reconstruction. Your surgeon may take this tissue from your lower abdomen or from the middle and side of your back. In rare cases, the tissue may be taken from your thighs. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of an implant, this is a viable alternative in most cases.

Reconstruction is a complex process that isn't right for every mastectomy patient, but with so many options, your doctor can help you choose the right one for your situation. With the information here, you can approach your doctor with an understanding of what your choices are.

For more information, contact Sam W Huddleston IV, MD or a similar medical professional.