About Breast Reconstruction
Surgical breast reconstruction can be performed to restore the chest to an attractive appearance in shape and size following a lumpectomy or mastectomy. It's also an option to restore the chest if it has been damaged by a birth defect or trauma. Advanced techniques and tools in reconstructive surgery make it easier for breast cancer patients to feel complete and have breasts that look natural after breast removal or damage. This surgery can include a few procedures and different stages that may be done at the same time as your breast cancer treatment or delayed until the treatment is complete. Baton Rouge, LA plastic surgeon Erick Sanchez, M.D. creates an individualized surgical plan with compassion as we help you and your cancer team to restore your appearance and confidence at Erick Sanchez, M.D. Plastic Surgery.
Breast Reconstruction Reviews
"I couldn’t ask for a better surgeon! Dr Sanchez and his office staff are amazing. I found him because I have breast cancer. Dr Sanchez and his office has been a huge blessing to me . I wouldn’t want to fight this battle with any other reconstructive surgeon on my fighting team. From general personality to bed side manner to surgical skills he is the best ?"- T.O. / Facebook / Jul 31, 2018
"I also used Dr. Sanchez because I had breast cancer. He and his office staff are the greatest. Love all of them. I give them a 5 Star!"- P.F. / Facebook / Aug 16, 2018
Reconstruction of the breast(s) is an extremely personalized surgery. Each patient will be required to have an in-depth consultation appointment with Dr. Sanchez to create their surgical plan that addresses their concerns, needs, and aesthetic goals so that the appropriate techniques can be applied. If you are planning to have breast reconstruction surgery, it's vital that you understand what realistic expectations for results can look like. While Dr. Sanchez aims to give you an attractive, natural appearance, your reconstructed breast(s) may not have the same sensations, feel, or look as your original breast(s). You should get approval from your oncology team to undergo reconstruction surgery and talk to Dr. Sanchez regarding other factors that may impact your recovery.
There's a variety of surgical techniques available to reconstruct the breast. There are also multiple factors that Dr. Sanchez looks at when deciding on the technique that will give you your best results. A few of these factors include your specific cancer diagnosis, when the reconstruction is performed, whether you will use implants or natural tissue, and if nipple reconstruction or nipple-sparing is a part of the treatment plan. To recreate the breast, you must have enough tissue to fully cover the breast mound. Flap procedures accomplish this by using your own muscle, skin, and fat to build and cover the breast. The most frequent flap techniques are:
- TRAM Flap
This technique takes skin, fat, and muscle from your stomach to create the breast. The tissue selected to build the new breast may be removed from the stomach or the tissue may stay connected to the donor location, maintaining the original blood supply.
- DIEP Flap
Similar to a TRAM Flap, the DIEP Flap removes skin, fat, and blood vessels from the lower abdominal area; however, it does not use the muscle. The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap removes skin and fat from the belly to form the new breast, then uses microsurgery to reattach the blood vessels to the chest wall.
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap
This technique uses muscle, fat, and skin from your back. During this technique, tissue is taken from the back to the breast(s) via a surgically created path so it stays attached to the donor location, which keeps the original blood supply in place.
- PAP Flap
Another flap is the profunda artery perforator (PAP). This method uses skin, fat, and muscle tissue from your inner thigh to create your breast(s).
- LTP Flap
Although the TRAM flap is one of the most common techniques used for breast reconstruction, sometimes there isn't enough muscle, fat, and skin that can be taken from the abdominal area. In this case, the LTP flap technique may be performed, which uses tissue from the outer thigh.
- Composite Flap
Also called a composite stacked flap, this technique takes flaps from different sections of your body for breast reconstruction.
Although flap procedures are a common and highly successful method for breast reconstruction surgery, you may want to rebuild your breast(s) with the tissue expansion method. This technique places a tissue expander below the breast wall and then gradually fills it with a saline solution over 4 – 6 months to stretch the skin naturally. After you choose the flap method or tissue expansion, you may then decide whether you would prefer to use breast implants or a fat transfer to create the shape and volume of the breast(s). After your reconstruction mammoplasty, you can further improve the look by having areola and nipple reconstruction. There are several ways to restore the nipple-areola complex so that it appears more attractive.
What to Expect
Surgical breast reconstruction is done in several steps. In some phases (like the flap creation, tissue expansion, or implant placement), general anesthesia is often used. Some patients may need to stay overnight, but this is based on the current treatment phase. When the last stage is completed for your breast reconstruction, you should wear a compression bra for the chest, and you may be prescribed medication by Dr. Sanchez to control discomfort, swelling, and bleeding. In time, the reconstructed breast(s) should appear more normal so you can feel more comfortable. Regular checks with breast exams and mammograms are important and highly recommended for long-term health.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does breast reconstruction surgery cost?
Breast reconstruction surgery can be complicated so to get natural, appealing results, you should focus on choosing a plastic surgeon who has years of skill and training, like Dr. Sanchez, who is board certified and has distinct experience in reconstructive surgery. During your initial consultation, Dr. Sanchez will take time to understand your concerns and cosmetic goals before creating your custom reconstruction plan. Once this is done, he will talk to you about costs, options for payment, and low-interest financing.
Does insurance cover my surgery?
The WHCRA (Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act) of 1998 requires health insurance policies that cover breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) to cover reconstruction surgery as well. If you have insurance, a team member at Erick Sanchez, M.D. Plastic Surgery will help explain your policy and coverage. We can also assist you in getting the necessary information and paperwork to your insurance carrier.
Which technique should I choose?
With so many options, there is no single reconstruction technique that works for every patient. The recommended method for you will be based on your concerns, wants, and physique. In your initial consultation, Dr. Sanchez will go over your choices, including both flaps and implants, so you understand the benefits and challenges before you decide on your treatment plan. Whether you choose a flap or implants, Dr. Sanchez will do his best to give you natural-looking results.
What about nipple reconstruction?
Reconstruction of the nipple-areola complex is typically done using cosmetic tattooing. If you're interested in having your nipple-areola complex tattooed onto your reconstructed breast(s), you should tell Dr. Sanchez in your initial consultation. He will go over your options to help you decide whether you'd like 3D tattooing of the nipple and areola to be included in your surgical plan.
Should I have reconstruction with my mastectomy or wait?
The timing of your breast reconstruction is based on several things. Some patients decide to get their breast(s) reconstructed along with their mastectomy while some patients decide to defer reconstruction surgery. Dr. Sanchez suggests you make an appointment for a consultation following a diagnosis of breast cancer so you can start learning about your choices, including when you want to have breast reconstruction surgery. If you want to get reconstruction with your breast cancer treatment, Dr. Sanchez will collaborate with your oncology team to plan your treatment.
Plan Your Procedure
Reclaim Your Self-Confidence
Although the process of breast reconstruction can take time, it's probably one of the top beneficial cosmetic surgeries for our Baton Rouge, LA patients at Erick Sanchez, M.D. Plastic Surgery. It can help restore your self-image and begin the process of overcoming the physical and emotional impact of breast cancer treatment. In addition, it can help you reclaim your figure and boost your self-confidence. If you have breast cancer, have had an injury to the chest, or have a congenital defect that affects the shape of your breasts, we encourage you to contact our Baton Rouge, LA plastic surgery office and make an appointment with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Erick Sanchez.