No one except the person who goes through it can fully understand the physical and emotional trauma that is experienced when one or both breasts must be removed. During this time, women are often faced with decisions that are very hard to make, and they are asked to accept significant changes in their appearance that can have a dramatic effect on their self-esteem.
Losing one or both breasts due to mastectomy or other causes can be devastating. However, in the last few decades, treatments that restore the breasts have become more and more advanced, and a variety of breast reconstruction techniques are available that can provide patients with results that look exceptionally natural and beautiful.
Dr. Venkata Erella is an experienced breast reconstructive surgeon who is skilled with a number of effective techniques. He and his entire team at Aspira Plastic Surgery are committed to offering you comprehensive treatment, working with your oncologist, breast surgeon, primary care physician, and others involved in your care to give you the best possible breast reconstruction results.
Together, we can help you through this next stage and restore what has been lost. Please contact Dr. Erella today by calling (512) 730-3885 with any questions you may have, or to schedule a private consultation.
What Is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction involves intricate and technologically advanced procedures designed to reconstruct a breast that has been removed or damaged. Years of innovations in reconstructive surgery have made it possible for women of all ages and body types to attain successful breast reconstruction with results that look natural. These procedures can utilize breast implants, the patient’s own tissue, and other means to restore the appearance of the breast and help women feel better about the way they look after breast removal.
Breast reconstruction procedures can even occur in tandem with a mastectomy, which is called immediate breast reconstruction. In these cases, our surgical team will be inside the operating room ready to begin restoring the appearance of the breast immediately after the breast has been removed. In some cases, delayed reconstruction will be performed. Medical problems or oncologic issues will determine whether the reconstruction is an immediate or delayed procedure.
Patients considering breast reconstruction should also note that this is often a covered procedure under many insurance plans. Our team at Aspira Plastic Surgery can assist you with questions about coverage for breast reconstruction.
Did You Know?
Dr. Venkata Erella is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive skills and experience performing breast reconstruction. Dr. Erella completed a Fellowship in Breast and Aesthetic Surgery, which is a program that trains plastic surgeons in more specialized procedures following their plastic surgery residency.
Am I a Candidate?
While each patient is different and individual results will vary, breast reconstruction candidates can include:
- Women who have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy
- Women who have lost breast tissue due to traumatic injury
- Women who have congenital breast deformity
Candidacy requirements for each technique will differ depending on your unique body type, your needs and goals. Dr. Erella will explain all aspects of breast reconstruction options with you during your initial consultation. Together, you and Dr. Erella will determine the option that can provide you with the best possible results.
Breast Reconstruction Techniques
The breast reconstruction technique that is ideal for your needs will depend on your body type, how much breast tissue you may have remaining in the area being targeted for treatment, and other factors. The following information will briefly describe the various breast reconstruction techniques offered by Dr. Erella:
TRAM Flap Reconstruction
TRAM Flap surgery, or Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous flap reconstruction, is one of the most popular and effective breast reconstruction techniques. In this procedure, excess fat, skin, and muscle are taken from the lower abdomen and transferred to the breast site to create a new, natural-looking breast. TRAM Flap reconstruction has the additional benefit of giving patients a procedure similar to a tummy tuck, accompanied by restoration of the breast.
Latissimus Dorsi Flap Reconstruction
Latissimus Dorsi Flap reconstruction takes skin and muscle from an area of the upper back and repositions them at the breast site. Often, an implant is placed under the flap, and the new breast is then molded and shaped to create the most natural-looking result to match the other breast.
Breast Reconstruction with Tissue Expanders and Implants
Implant reconstruction with tissue expansion involves placing a tissue expander (a small balloon) under the chest muscle at the time of mastectomy or later that is gradually expanded over a period of several weeks with injections of saline. This will expand the tissue enough to accommodate the soft breast implant. Dr. Erella can also use an Alloderm biological graft to provide the implant with more support and extra strength to the lower flap. Once the tissue has been properly expanded, Dr. Erella will replace the tissue expander with a breast implant in the second stage of the procedure, and shape the new breast for a natural-looking result that matches the other breast.
Breast Reconstruction Recovery
Recovery from breast reconstruction largely depends on which type of breast reconstruction you undergo. In general, patients can expect the following:
- Recovery times can last anywhere from two to four weeks.
- A compression garment will need to be worn for the first few weeks to help with healing.
- Any pain and discomfort after surgery can be managed with medication.
- Depending on the technique performed and your individual body type, many patients are able to resume normal daily activities within four weeks.
Again, details of recovery are highly dependent on each patient’s unique needs and the breast reconstruction technique that is performed. Once you speak with Dr. Erella during your first consultation, he will be able to provide you with a much clearer idea of what you can expect during recovery.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
Nipple and areola reconstruction will be conducted separately from the main breast reconstruction procedure. In most cases, Dr. Erella will use a local flap or take a skin graft from another area of your body to create a new and natural-looking nipple and areola on the reconstructed breast. Advances in nipple reconstruction have made this procedure very effective, allowing for a beautiful final touch to your breast reconstruction.
Nipple and Areola Tattooing
Nipple and areola tattooing utilizes state-of-the-art tattooing technology to create a natural-looking nipple and areola. A variety of pigments are blended together to provide a good match for the nipple and areola on the other breast.
Secondary Breast Reconstruction
Revision or secondary breast reconstruction procedures may be necessary in some cases in order provide you with the best possible aesthetic result for both breasts. These procedures may include:
- Implant revision to correct any irregularities in contour or problems encountered with the implant
- Lift, augmentation, or reduction in the opposite breast to correct any symmetry issues that may occur
- Fat grafting
- Flap improvements to attain the best possible shape for the final result
- Nipple reconstruction