There are a lot of options these days for breast reconstruction after cancer. Many choices can be a good thing. However, this also can make for a difficult time immediately after having been diagnosed with cancer. Losing a breast to cancer is always hard. Making difficult decision about reconstruction doesn't have to be.
Whether or not to proceed with reconstruction is a woman's choice. Once that decision is made, the plastic surgeon can help guide you through the maze of decisions regarding reconstruction. A good place to start is whether or not to use implants or your body's own tissue for reconstruct ion.
Implants are a popular choice because there is no donor site. Usually a tissue expander is used to prepare the breast for an implant. This requires a second operation after the mastectomy to exchange the expander for the implant. All implants are made from silicone, but what is inside them can differ. You can either have them filled with silicone gel or saline. Silicone gel is the most popular for breast reconstruction. Saline implants are available for use in breast reconstruction, but without any breast tissue they dont appear as natural.
Using your body's own tissue to build a breast is a good option in the right patient. The skin and tissue removed in a tummy tuck can be used to rebuild your breast at the same time as the mastectomy. While it is nice to wake up and be finished with the process, it's often not known until after the operation is complete whether radiation treatment will be needed. Radiation can ruin the reconstructed breast.
About 65% of women in the United States choose to use expanders for reconstruction. This is likely due to the fact that for most women the whole process is less difficult. And with the availability of new materials to work with the end results can be excellent.
A consultation with your physician will help you determine which option is the best for you.
Dr. Brian Bruggeman is a Board-Certified plastic surgeon working at East Falls Plastic Surgery in Idaho Falls. He specializes in reconstructive surgery, cosmetic surgery, breast augmentation, face lift, tummy tuck and breast reduction. Bruggeman is a member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He earned both is Fellowship and Residency at Albany Medical Center and attended Medical School at University of Utah.