If you have had, or are about to have, breast surgery to treat cancer or another disease you have probably considered breast reconstruction. You may wish to have reconstructive surgery immediately, or you may want to wait until you have completed other medical procedures. The decision is entirely yours and you should not feel rushed into making it. Breast reconstruction can be performed at any time, and the best time to have it is the time that suits you.
Reconstructive surgery is complex and must be tailored to your specific needs. The type of surgery you have – lumpectomy, mastectomy, node removal – will have a big influence on the type of reconstructive procedure you require. Dr Hunt will thoroughly explain all the options to you, and you will find a welcoming and supportive environment.
Before & After
modified radical mastectomy left and right breast + radiotherapy left breast Right breast – Tissue expander + silicone breast implant Left breast - Tissue expander + latissimus dorsi flap + silicone breast implant.
Considering breast reconstruction?
There are some common questions that many people who are contemplating breast surgery ask, such as:
- Is it for me?
If you have had all or part of your breast removed it can have a significant effect on the way you feel about your body, such as a sense of loss of femininity. Breast reconstruction can help lessen the physical and emotional impact of breast removal. It is not a decision you need to rush - every woman’s needs are different. Dr Hunt is a very experienced surgeon and he can provide you with all the relevant advice you need to make an informed decision.
Breast reconstruction does not interfere with future mammograms or X-rays, nor with any therapy you may need such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
- What happens at the first consultation?
During the first consultation with Dr Hunt he will discuss your concerns and expectations and examine your breasts. He can then recommend the most appropriate procedure for you, depending on:
- the amount of breast tissue that remains after your surgery
- how healthy the remaining tissue is
- the type of treatments you have had, e.g. radiotherapy
- your overall health
- the outcome you want.
It is likely you will require a number of surgeries, and Dr Hunt will explain what each one will involve.
At the end of the consultation pictures will be taken for your medical record.
After the consultation, a quote will be prepared that will include your surgical, anaesthetic, and hospital fees.
- What's involved?
Breast surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic, given by an anaesthetist, in an accredited hospital, so you are assured of the highest standard of care.
Skin expansion and later insertion of a silicone or saline implant
Three procedures are usually required. ?Following mastectomy, an expandable balloon is placed beneath your chest muscle. Saline is gradually injected into the balloon over weeks or months, allowing the skin above to gradually stretch. When the skin is stretched sufficiently the balloon is usually removed and replaced with a permanent implant. Some balloons are designed to be left in place permanently. A final procedure may then be performed to reconstruct the nipple and areola.
For some women, tissue expansion is not required before placing an implant.
This technique uses either breast tissue remaining after a lumpectomy or partial mastectomy or tissue from another part of the body to create the new breast. An implant may also be required. This is a highly specialised technique, and recovery will take longer than an implant reconstruction technique.
Reconstruction will not restore an identical breast to the one you lost, and it cannot restore normal sensation to the breast area. However, it is usually possible to closely match the reconstructed breast and some feeling may return over time.
- When can I go home?
The type of reconstructive surgery you have will determine how long you stay in hospital. Most women go home 2 to 5 days after the procedure.
When you go home you should limit your movements to around the house for 2 to 3 days to minimise pain.
When you are discharged you will be given a prescription for pain medication to minimise your discomfort. You should take only the pain medication prescribed, and eat before you take it to prevent an upset stomach.
Eat lightly for 3 to 4 days after surgery and then resume your normal diet. Make sure you get plenty of fluids.
- Will I have to return for post-operative care?
You will have regular consultations with Dr Hunt throughout the reconstruction process. After your final procedure you will return for regular follow-up visits over the next 6 to 12 months.
- How long will I be off work?
The type of surgery you have will determine how long you should take off work. It will range from 1 week to more than a month.
- When can I resume my normal activities?
You will feel tired and your breast may be bruised and tender for up to 2 weeks after your surgery. Dr Hunt will give you very specific instructions about the type of activities you can participate in after each procedure.
Generally, you should restrict all physical activity for at least 2 weeks. Do not lift anything over 5kg and do not drive.
Do not undertake any strenuous activities for 4 weeks.
Do not undertake chest or weights exercises for 6 weeks. You must protect your breasts from stretching activities for at least 6 weeks to allow the incisions to heal.
Your scars will be firm and pink for at least 6 weeks. Then they may remain the same size for several months, or even appear to widen. After several months, your scars will begin to fade, although they will never disappear completely.
Take the next step. If you're ready to learn more about Breast Reconstruction, or take that step toward an improved quality of life click the button below to make an appointment to see Dr Jeremy Hunt
Loss of a breast from cancer surgery can be psychologically devastating and socially limiting. Reconstruction of the removed breast can restore femininity and balance between the two breasts, allowing a more active lifestyle.
Take the next step: Enquire about this procedure
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