Post Cancer Breast Reconstruction
If you've had mastectomy to remove a breast because of cancer or some other disease, in most cases we can reconstruct a breast similar to a natural breast. You can have breast reconstruction as part of the breast removal operation, or months or years later.
There are two methods of breast reconstruction:
- using an implant
- using tissue taken from another part of your body.
You are given a general anaesthetic for both types of operations.
These procedures are quite involved, and you may have to spend up to 7 nights in hospital.
Each procedure has specific issues and risks associated with it. Your surgeon will discuss these fully with you in helping you decide which method is most suitable for you.
You have a silicone shell usually filled with silicone gel inserted underneath your chest muscle and skin.
Sometimes your skin needs to be stretched to the required size before you have your implant. For this, you will first have an operation to place an empty bag (called a tissue expander) where the implant will finally go.
The tissue expander is gradually filled with saline over weeks or months to stretch your skin and is removed when you have your implant.
Flap reconstruction surgery
Skin and muscle are taken from another part of your body, such as your back or stomach.
This is called a tissue flap and is used to reconstruct your new breast.
After the operation
You will need to stay in hospital for 2 to 3 days.
Flap reconstruction is a longer and more complicated operation, and you will need to stay in hospital for 5 to 7 days.
Most people get back to normal levels of activity 3 to 4 weeks after these operations. However, you need to restrict vigorous exercise such as gym work for at least 6 weeks. Your breasts should be ready for a new bra fitting after 6 weeks.
Your specialist will give you full information at your consultation about what to expect.
The outcome for you is you have natural-looking breasts. If you have had a single breast reconstructed, we make it as close in shape and size to your existing breast as possible. However, your new breast will never be exactly the same as the other one.
You will have scarring both on your new breast and in the site any tissue was removed from.
Breast reconstruction surgery is a major procedure, and complications are always a risk. Your specialist will inform you fully at your consultation of any possible complications.