Damaged breast tissue or breast removal can adversely impact your life.
Breast reconstruction is an essential solution for women dealing with the emotional and physical pain of losing their breast(s) due to cancer, illness, or trauma.
To perform this, surgeons use the patient’s natural tissue (from elsewhere in the body) or implants to repair irregular, partially, or completely removed breasts.
Implant reconstructive procedures can be immediate or delayed. Many patients opt for direct-to-implant breast reconstruction (when it is possible). In this surgery, the reconstruction immediately follows the mastectomy. The alternative requires a longer wait after a mastectomy.
What Is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Breast reconstruction is a restorative surgery for irregular, partially, or completely removed breasts. There are two main techniques for breast reconstruction surgery.
The Flap-Based Breast Reconstruction Surgery
In flap reconstruction, the surgeon takes fat, blood vessels, and muscles from another body part and repositions them into the breasts.
The grafted tissues are collectively known as a flap.
The Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Surgeons can also use saline or silicone implants to create or reshape breasts. Implant reconstruction can occur immediately after a mastectomy or at a later time. You can choose to have this procedure in two stages. The delayed option has multiple stages — including one for the mastectomy and the other for the reconstruction.
The direct-to-implant option is a single-stage procedure that saves time and expedites recovery. However, not everybody qualifies for direct-to-implant breast reconstruction in Washington, DC.
Candidacy for the Direct-to-Implant Breast Reconstruction
The ideal candidate for a direct-to-implant breast reconstruction surgery in Washington, DC, must be a non-smoker. Tobacco interferes with wound healing and complicates scar tissue formation. It is advisable to stop smoking months before scheduling a surgical procedure to prevent these complications.
Direct-to-implant reconstruction surgery is also suitable for patients desiring their regular-sized or smaller breasts after a mastectomy.
Depending on your cancer treatment protocol, some patients can add their implant immediately after the tissue is removed through mastectomy or lumpectomy. However, many patients must undergo this as a gradual process because the breast skin must be stretched gradually to be able to hold and support an implant.
To do this, a tissue expander is placed in the chest (breast pocket) and gradually filled until it is the size of the permanent implant. This stretches the skin gradually.
Once the skin is appropriately stretched, the expander is removed and the final implant inserted.
Recovery After a Direct-to-Implant Breast Reconstruction
A day or two hospitalization period follows after the direct-to-implant procedure. The rest of the recovery period occurs at home. Although there is medication to alleviate pain, you should follow the surgeon’s instructions for a swift recovery.
During the two to four-week recovery, you should:
- Avoid strenuous activity to enable the sourness and aches to subside
- Get plenty of rest to heal the muscles, breast tissue, and surgical wounds
- Have easy access to the washroom, medicine, water, and clothing to avoid straining the upper body
- Include light walking at designated periods to prevent blood clots from forming
- Eat nutritious food to provide the body nutrients for proper wound healing
- Wear loosely fitting clothing
- Have someone help you with chores, errands, and support
Exercising After a Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Do not resume high-intensity exercise for at least a week or two after surgery. The strain can tear the sutures and increase pain and discomfort in the upper body. Gradually incorporate physical activity post-surgery. Consult the surgeon before getting deep into strenuous workouts.
Which Is Better Between a Direct-to-Implant Reconstructive Surgery and a Delayed Reconstructive Surgery?
It depends on what you want. Some patients want to be done with the surgical procedures immediately. If they qualify for the direct-to implant operation, everything is complete in one surgery. The option also quickens the recovery period. On the other hand, other patients may get overwhelmed after a mastectomy and prefer to wait before going for reconstruction.
Additionally, some ongoing cancer treatments, like radiation, interfere with the process and will need to be delayed until after treatment has completed. You will need to discuss your options with your oncologist and plastic surgeon.
Who Qualifies for Breast Reconstruction?
Most women consider breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy due to cancer. Similarly, if you are at a high risk of breast cancer can opt to have your breast removed and a breast reconstruction surgery to maintain your natural look.
Prevention is better than cure. Check these seven ways to prevent breast cancer.
Why Is Breast Reconstruction Surgery Significant?
Breast reconstruction surgery enables you to restore your breasts. The loss of breasts can cause mental anguish, stigma, and low self-esteem. It can also impact your perception of yourself. Through breast reconstruction, you get to recover what was lost.
Is Direct-to-Implant Breast Reconstruction a Major Surgery?
The direct-to-implant breast reconstruction is major surgery. The patient is under total anesthesia during the procedure. They also stay a day or two in the hospital after the operation. Recovery can take an entire month.