October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, according to recent findings, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. As research continues, we must strive to take care of those who have been affected and pursue ways to increase survivors. Our team at My Houston Surgeons is committed to helping breast cancer patients look and feel their best after conquering cancer with breast reconstruction.
Interested in breast reconstruction, but not entirely sure what your options are? Let us help you narrow it down!
Why Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Losing one or both breasts is a major life change and can be a mournful experience. Breasts are not only a sense of identity and sexuality but also reflect a women’s femininity. Without them, women need time to grieve. However along you are in the process, remember that if at some point in the future, you would like to rebuild or reshape your breast, that breast reconstruction is an option. This surgery may be done at the same time as a Mastectomy or you can choose to forgo the surgery at a later time. Either way, it is entirely a personal choice, that we hope to provide all the information you need to make the best choice for you and your body.
Types of Breast Reconstruction
There are various types of options available. During a consultation, your surgeon will review options, review the patient’s background and answer any questions you may have. It is important to research options and consider your needs before choosing a reconstruction surgery.
Below are three main techniques that are used for a reconstruction surgery:
Implants: An implant reshapes the breast. They are typically designed using a combination of both saline (salt water) and silicone gel
Tissue Expanders: A breast tissue expander is an inflatable implant designed to stretch the skin and muscle to make room for a future, more permanent implant. Once there is enough room the expander is replaced with an implant or a flap.
Flap: An autologous reconstruction that uses tissue from a different part of your body -usually harvested from the thigh, back, or belly area.
Most Common Technique is a Flap
This technique provides exceptional amounts of fat for breast reconstruction, even in an extremely thin patient. Scars from this procedure are easily hidden and barely noticeable. Additionally, patients undergoing this procedure result in flattering features through fat removal.
DIEP: A Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator flap takes skin, fat and blood vessels from your lower abdomen to construct a new breast. This technique allows you to maintain strength and muscle function in your abdomen which leads to a safer, less painful and faster recovery.
SIEA: A Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery flap similarly uses skin, fat and blood vessels from your lower belly while sparing the abdominal muscles. Your surgeon will attach the blood vessels from the flap to your chest’s blood vessels. Most women, however, are not eligible for SIEA because they have previously had a C-section or the blood vessels do not exist.
PAP: A Profunda Artery Perforator flap utilizes skin, fat and blood vessels from the back of your upper thigh, just below the buttocks to reconstruct a breast. This is procedure is often more cosmetically pleasing to women since the scar can be hidden well. This type of surgery is recommended for women who do not have enough tissue on their abdomens or who have previously undergone surgery in that area.
GAP: A Gluteal Artery Perforator takes skin, fat and blood vessels from either your upper or lower buttocks to reconstruct a breast. This procedure is a great alternative for women who cannot undergo DIEP or SIEA. The scars from GAP can also usually be hidden underneath underwear.
Are You a Candidate for This Surgery?
Booking a consultation is the best way to find out. During your consultation, our surgeons at My Houston Surgeons will evaluate thoroughly. They will discuss your general health status, review pre-existing health conditions, examine your area of concern, note skin quality, and overall appearance. Lastly, our surgeons will discuss treatment options and likely outcomes or risks associated with a chosen procedure.
It’s important to understand all aspects of your procedure. It’s also completely natural to feel anxious, either from preoperative stress or anticipation. Rest assured, you are in great hands. Our plastic and reconstructive surgeons understand that this is a process and will do everything to ensure your goals are met. For questions about breast reconstruction, please call our office: (713) 791-0700. You can also click here to use our online request to schedule an appointment.