Implants, Expanders, and Flaps: Understanding Your Breast Reconstruction Options

According to a recent study in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there has been a significant rise in the number of women undergoing breast reconstruction immediately after mastectomy. From ASPS’ study, researchers saw that out of approximately 178,600 mastectomies performed over a 10 year period, 51,400 were followed by immediate breast reconstruction. After the first national Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day (BRA Day) this past year on October 17th, 2012, more women are receiving education on reconstructive options after breast cancer treatment. The highly skilled surgeons of Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. understand the importance of breast cancer research and awareness. With the latest technology and continued research, Atlanta Plastic Surgery offers the latest techniques in breast reconstruction.Breast Reconstruction Options at Atlanta Plastic Surgery

After diagnosis, breast cancer patients must undergo a lumpectomy (partial removal surgery) or mastectomy to remove the cancer. Patients can choose to undergo reconstructive surgery directly after cancer removal, or they may wait for surgery following treatment, or even choose not to have it. Reconstructive surgery rebuilds the breast mound and often includes nipple/areola reconstruction as well. Our surgeons offer various techniques such as implants, tissue expanders, and tissue flaps for patients with different needs and aesthetic goals.

Reconstruction with breast implants has been a popular option for patients who have enough remaining breast tissue to support the implant. The statistics published by ASPS show implants have become the most popular reconstruction option, surpassing tissue reconstruction in 2002. If a patient does not have enough tissue, a tissue expander can be used to encourage skin and tissue growth. An expander is an empty elastomer shell that is gradually filled with sterile saline solution to gradually make room for a breast implant.

Another option involves tissue flaps harvested from the patient’s own fat and tissue to reconstruct the breast mound. Developed by Atlanta Plastic Surgery’s co-founder Dr. Carl Hartrampf, the TRAM flap method (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) uses tissue taken from the abdomen which maintains the same blood supply. Another flap procedure, the latissimus dorsi flap, harvests tissue taken from the back.

In addition to breast reconstruction, other breast procedures such as a breast lift or nipple reconstruction may be performed to yield more natural looking results. It is important to consult with your surgeon to determine the best reconstruction options for your needs. For more information on breast reconstruction procedures or to learn about other breast, body, or facial procedures our surgeons perform, visit our website or contact us today to schedule a consultation.