After breast cancer is treated with a mastectomy, breast reconstruction rebuilds the breast to restore your appearance — and help bolster your spirit. Susan Schneider, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon at The Methodist Physician Group Specialists, joins your cancer care team right from the start so she can support you every step of the way and ensure you receive timely reconstructive surgery. To schedule an appointment, use online booking or call the practice in Merrillville, Indiana.
Breast reconstruction is surgery to rebuild or restore your breast back to its normal shape and size following a mastectomy. In some cases, a lumpectomy may also be extensive enough to require a breast reconstruction.
Surgery to reconstruct your breast can begin at the time of your mastectomy, or you may wait until after your mastectomy heals and your breast cancer therapy is finished. Delayed reconstruction may take place months or years after the mastectomy.
There are two basic types of breast reconstruction. Dr. Schneider may restore your breast with implants or rebuild the breast using tissue taken from elsewhere on your body.
Breast reconstruction with implants begins by making enough room for the implant. This is done with a tissue expander that stretches your remaining chest skin and soft tissues.
A balloon-like expander is placed under or over your chest muscles, often at the time of your mastectomy. Over the course of several months, the balloon is gradually inflated with saline, slowly stretching your skin over time.
The next step is to replace the expander with a permanent breast implant. Your nipple may also be reconstructed, and you can use tattooing to define the areola if desired.
Flap reconstruction is a more complex procedure than using an implant. To perform flap reconstruction, Dr. Schneider transfers a section of skin, muscle, fat, and blood vessels from one part of your body and grafts it onto your chest to create a new breast.
The tissue for your new breast is most often taken from your abdomen, although it can also come from your thigh, buttocks, or back. The most important part of flap reconstruction is maintaining healthy blood vessels in the harvested tissue and reestablishing a blood supply after it’s transplanted onto your chest.
Before your reconstruction surgery, Dr. Schneider talks with you about what to expect following surgery. However, it’s important to know that you may need to rest and heal for up to six weeks or longer before getting back to your normal activities.
You’ve had a mastectomy and most likely other cancer treatment, followed by more surgery to reconstruct your breasts. It’s natural for your body to need extended time to recover.
When you learn you have breast cancer, it’s important to include Dr. Schneider on your cancer team right from the start. She’ll coordinate your care with your oncologist and ensure that your reconstruction surgery is performed at the best time in your cancer treatment.
To schedule an appointment, call The Methodist Physician Group Specialists or book an appointment online.