Doctors diagnosed more than 290,000 cases of invasive breast cancer in 2022, forcing many women who survived the tragic diagnosis to consider breast reconstruction in the aftermath. It’s a devastating diagnosis that scars survivors. Breast reconstruction is one way to restore some sense of normality, including the use of saline or silicone implants.
Surgery to reconstruct the breasts can be performed months or even years after a mastectomy. Sometimes reconstruction surgery includes the other breast to ensure that both are equal in size and shape. In some cases, women may consult with a specialist to buy breast prothesis in Florida that help form the shape of a breast to use before or instead of implants.
Surgeons insert implants underneath the skin or chest muscle after the mastectomy. The procedure typically occurs in two stages.
First, the surgeon places a tissue expander device under the skin that is left after the mastectomy or under the chest muscle. Saline is used to slowly fill the expander after surgery. Second, the expander is removed after the chest tissue heals, and it’s replaced with an implant. This typically occurs within six months after the mastectomy, if the patient doesn’t choose to wait for reconstruction surgery. In some cases, the expander is not used, and the implant is inserted instead.
Many surgeons use an acellular dermal matrix mesh material as a sort of “sling” to support tissue expanders and implants. In some reconstruction procedures, surgeons may use tissue from a woman’s body to rebuild the breast.
Surgeons can reconstruct the nipple and areola after the chest heals from reconstruction surgery. A new nipple can be created by cutting, moving, and shaping small pieces of skin from the reconstructed breast to the nipple site. Surgeons can reconstruct the areola a few months after nipple reconstruction, typically using tattoo ink. In some cases, skin grafts from the groin or abdomen can be attached to the breast to create the areola during nipple reconstruction.
A nipple-sparing mastectomy can save a woman’s nipple and areola if that is an option, depending on the size and location of the breast cancer and the breast’s shape and size.
A key factor impacting when a woman can have breast reconstruction is whether radiation therapy is required. Radiation therapy can result in problems with wound healing or infections in reconstructed breasts. Doctors often advise delaying breast reconstruction until after radiation therapy, although certain advancements in radiation make this less necessary for many women.
The type of breast cancer can also affect the timing of reconstruction. When mastectomies require extensive skin removal because of inflammatory breast cancer, immediate reconstruction can be more challenging.
Some women choose to delay reconstruction until they have fully recovered from their mastectomy and subsequent adjuvant treatment. They will often choose breast prostheses to help create the appearance of breasts at this time.