One of the priorities in reconstructive plastic surgery is reconstructing the female breast. There are several ways to reconstruct the breast after breast cancer. Whether, how and at what point a breast reconstruction can be performed depends on several factors: the preferences of the patient as well as her physical disposition and the medical requirements.
Prior to your decision, collect comprehensive information about the possibilities and methods as well as the risks of the procedure. Also find a surgeon who has the necessary experience and is ready to conduct a thorough consultation with you (>> Check list surgeon).
Basically, there are two possibilities to reconstruct the breast:
Consulting thoroughly with your surgeon will help to define the surgical technique appropriate for you.
Breast reconstruction with silicone implants
In general, silicone-gel filled implants are used for this type of reconstruction. Depending on the patient’s physical condition and subsequent treatment, the breast implant may be inserted directly after the surgical removal of the tumor. Your doctor will discuss with you if that's possible in your case.
If the reconstruction is to take place at a later time, several preparatory steps are required: First, a tissue expander is inserted, which allows the skin to gradually expand. Once the tissue is sufficiently stretched, the expander can be replaced with a silicone implant in the required size.
Opting for a reconstruction with implants has several advantages:
Breast reconstruction with autologous tissue
In this type of reconstruction, the breast is reconstructed with the patient's own tissue harvested from other parts of her body. Autologous reconstruction is often improved by implants, for example if the desired volume of the reconstructed breast cannot be achieved due to lack of sufficient autologous tissue.
Possible complications that can arise after autologous reconstruction are due to lack of blood supply to the transplanted tissue, or impaired wound healing and possible loss of function in the areas from which the tissue was removed.