Breast Reconstruction is a surgical procedure to rebuild a woman’s breasts after surgical removal (mastectomy).
Frequently Asked Questions
- Breast Reconstruction Options
- Tram Flap Breast Reconstruction
- DIEP Breast Reconstruction
- Breast Reconstruction Implants
Opting for breast reconstruction is a personal choice. Many women choose to leave their bodies alone after breast removal whilst others wish to have their breasts rebuilt, even after many years of living without their breast(s). Reconstruction of both breasts is called bilateral reconstruction whereas surgery to recreate just one breast is referred to as unilateral reconstruction.
Breast Reconstruction Options
A breast reconstruction can be performed using various techniques. The first choice is whether you wish your new breasts to be made from your own body tissue or breast implants. The options with breast implants are either saline or silicone. The breast mound can also be made from bodily tissue found in the abdomen, back and even your buttocks. The suitable combination varies for each individual and largely depends on your age, body type and cancer treatment.
Other options also include adding a nipple and if you only have one breast reconstructed (unilateral reconstruction) you may decide to operate on the opposite breast to achieve better asymmetry. After the reconstruction you may also choose to have revision surgery if you are unsatisfied with the size or shape of the reconstructed breast.
Tram Flap Breast Reconstruction
Tram Flap Surgery (Transverse Rectus Abdominus Myocutaneous Flap) is a type of reconstruction where the surgeon creates the breast mound from the skin, fat and muscle from your lower abdomen. This operation takes about 3-6 hours. You will be required to stay in hospital for 2-5 days. It takes about 6-8 weeks to resume standard daily activity.
A bonus with this technique is a flatter stomach. For this reason it’s often referred to as the tummy tuck procedure. However, the operation does leave a scar on your tummy.
DIEP Breast Reconstruction
A DIEP Flap (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) reconstruction is the same as the Tram Flap operation however it only uses the skin and fat from your abdomen, leaving the muscle intact. The surgery time, hospital stay and healing period are similar to the Tram Flam method. However, since the muscle is not removed from your tummy, there is no impairment in muscle strength with the DIEP technique. The Tram Flap reconstruction may result in persistent muscle weakness in the abdomen. The DIEP method may also use an implant in addition to your own tissue.
Breast Reconstruction Implants
Reconstruction breast implants can be filled from either silicone gel or sterile saline (salt water). There’s a variety of widths and volumes to choose from. The appropriate sizing depends on your body frame and type. The size options include moderate, moderate-plus, high and even extra-high profile, as are available with Narelle brand implants. The shell can either be textured or smooth. The texture is determined by the reconstruction technique and the implant sizing.
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