Breast reconstruction, Geelong
What is it?
Breast reconstruction is the reconstruction of the breast and is most commonly used to create a new breast after one is removed due to cancer. It also applies to fixing dents and deficiencies in breasts after lump removal or trauma. Reconstructive surgery of the breast can be undertaken at the time of your mastectomy (immediate) or at a later date (delayed).
Different techniques of breast reconstruction
There are many options available and you will be guided to help you choose a solution that suits your needs.
Implant-only reconstruction with expanders
This involves placing an empty implant beneath the muscle on the chest. This implant is then inflated with saline via a small valve in the weeks following the operation. The expander is then usually exchanged for a definitive silicone implant approximately six months after the initial operation.
Latissimus Dorsi muscle flap with or without an implant
This is where the back muscle with some overlying skin and fat is transferred to the chest to create a new breast. Sometimes an implant is required to provide extra volume.
Free-tissue transfer DIEP flap
This includes a “tummy tuck” as well as breast reconstruction because the tissue is taken from the abdomen. The free-tissue transfer DIEP flap is designed to replace the fatty-like tissue of the breast with that from the lower tummy. This requires microsurgery to connect the blood supply of the tummy tissue to blood vessels in the chest. This procedure usually requires the assistance of another plastic surgeon.
Am I suitable?
Breast reconstruction is an option for you if:
- You have had a mastectomy (single or bilateral) due to breast cancer
- You have underdeveloped or abnormally-formed breasts
- You are a non-smoker and in good health.
Your initial consultation will be with Mr McDonald who will:
- Discuss your medical history and perform a thorough clinical examination.
- Have a full discussion with you about the risks and complications of the surgery.
You will be given written information about breast reconstruction surgery. Photographs of patients having undergone breast reconstruction can be shown. It is important that you should be reassured that Mr McDonald will not agree to perform any procedures on you unless he feels the benefits significantly outweigh the risks.
The type of breast surgery you require is something we discuss extensively with you. It is important to know that breast reconstruction is not always one operation, but rather a process aimed to recreate a new breast. A number of operations may be required to achieve this, including nipple reconstruction and sometimes adjustment of the other breast in order to obtain symmetry.
What can I expect if I have the procedure?
- The operation may take between two and eight hours depending on the type of reconstruction.
- The hospital stay will vary between one and seven days.
- You will need help at home post-operatively.
- There will be some swelling and bruising.
- You will be on a caffeine-free diet.
- Pain and discomfort are controlled with medication prescribed by Mr McDonald.
- You will be required to wear a compression garment for six weeks post-operatively if tissue is taken from the tummy. Initially this is 24 hours a day, seven days a week for two weeks and then it may be removed for showering.
- Your scars will be taped for three months.
- You will require between two to six weeks off work.
- No driving for up to four weeks.
- Exercise will be limited to short walks, gradually increasing. This helps to reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs.
We will keep in close contact with you and see you in five days after discharge from hospital and then on an as-needs basis weekly. You can phone our rooms anytime and for after-hours calls there is a recorded message.
These may occur with any surgical procedure and will be discussed in detail in your consultation with Mr McDonald. The risks of complications are reduced if you are healthy and a non-smoker.
A breast reconstruction can help you feel more comfortable about how you look. The first step to a new, more confident you is an initial consultation with Mr McDonald. During this session, you will be invited to ask all your questions to ensure you are happy and comfortable, and we will discuss the procedure itself and the care you will receive during and afterwards.