Approximately one out of every eight women in the United States today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. Although efforts to increase early detection and advancements in our understanding of the disease have significantly improved survival rates over the years, for many women the treatment of breast cancer still involves a mastectomy, the surgical removal of one or both breasts. Over the past fifty years, Atlanta Plastic Surgery has helped thousands of women to recover what breast cancer has taken with breast reconstruction surgery, a procedure designed to construct a natural looking breast that mirrors the form and appearance of the original. Not every woman chooses to undergo breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy, but for those who do the procedure can generally be accomplished in one of two ways: through the use of artificial breast implants or through the use of an autologous tissue flap.
Breast implants can be used to rebuild a breast mound after a mastectomy in much the same way that they are used to increase the size of the breasts during a standard cosmetic breast augmentation procedure. Depending on the laxity of the skin and muscle, it may be possible to insert the breast implant between the layers of chest muscle and under breast skin saved during breast cancer surgery, or if there is insufficient breast tissue remaining after the mastectomy for the desired breast implant to fit, a tissue expander can even be used to gradually increase the size of the breast pocket in order to make room for it. This approach provides patients with a variety of options, as there are many different sizes and shapes of breast implants ranging from simple round saline and silicone implants to Allergan’s 410 silicone gel implants which have a tear-drop shape to better mimic the natural contours of the breast.
Breast Reconstruction with Autologous Tissue Flaps
Over thirty years ago, Atlanta Plastic Surgery co-founder Dr. Carl Hartrampf, Jr. developed the TRAM flap operation, which utilized a portion of a woman’s own abdominal fat, muscle, and skin to reconstruct the breast. Today, many women who desire a more natural approach to breast reconstruction opt for the TRAM flap technique, or other similar techniques that use autologous tissue taken from other areas in the patient’s own body. Because tissue flap breast reconstruction procedures use living, growing tissue, which is often still connected to its original blood supply, it can continue to grow and change as the body ages, a characteristic that many believe creates a more natural looking final result.
Ultimately, every woman’s body is unique and each case has different requirements depending on the patient’s personal medical history and individual aesthetic goals. You should consult a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience performing breast reconstruction procedures in order to determine which approach, or combination of approaches, will be suitable for your specific circumstances. If you are interested in learning more about your breast reconstruction options, please contact Atlanta Plastic Surgery in Alpharetta, or at one of our other Atlanta area offices located in Sandy Springs (Northside), Newnan, or Cumming, to schedule a full consultation. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery news.