Breast cancer is a difficult time and having to have a mastectomy, to either one or both breasts, just makes it that slightly more difficult.
However, it is possible to have a breast reconstruction after mastectomy takes place and there are two types that most doctors perform.
Breast reconstruction after mastectomy with implants
Breast Implants and muscle is placed underneath the skin to help create the shape of new breasts. This is the most common option used, especially when it comes to the immediate reconstruction.
There are ways to make the implant look more real-like, including filing it with tissue to make it larger. As the body repairs from the cancer, a permanent option of other types of implants are available.
Breast reconstruction after mastectomy with own tissue
This is not always a viable option but there are times that own tissue is used. This will often depend on how vigorous the cancer was and whether it affected any other areas. This is also more complex and will cost more money.
Skin, fat and muscles from other body parts are taken and then formed into the shape of the breast.
This is then attached to the body in a variety of ways – this depends on funds, body capabilities and what the surgeon prefers regarding the breast reconstruction.
A pedicled tissue flap is one that uses the tissue from the back or abdomen. This is formed through the chest so the blood supply is still connected to where the tissue was taken from.
There are times that an implant is used and placed behind the skin and muscle tissue to help give a breast-like shape.
A free flap is when the tissue is completely removed from the body and taken from its own blood supply. It will then be given a new supply when the material is attached to the chest. This uses microsurgery for minimal scarring.
The free perforator flap is the third option. This does not use any type of muscle; just fat and skin. This is taken from the lower abdomen or even the buttocks. Like the free flap, it is taken from its blood supply but the blood vessels are still connected. Again, microsurgery is used to give the new breast its own blood supply.
New methods for breast reconstruction after mastectomy
There are times that a synthetic mesh is needed to help with supporting the breast reconstruction, whether tissue or implants are used. This is to help keep the breasts in the right place because they are often too heavy to stay there on their own, especially during the healing process.
However, another option is to use skin that has been donated from another human or even pig skin to hold the implant in place. All of the cells are removed from the skin before it is placed and it means that there is less chance of the body rejecting it. This will also help to limit the chance of diseases being passed from the skin and into the patient’s body.
The new methods are not something that all surgeons will use but if you are interested in this, you can talk to them. They will be able to help determine whether you are suitable for both types; however, you may need to speak to different surgeons in different hospitals.