Breast reconstruction aims to alter the appearance of breasts for women who have undergone a mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery, as treatment for breast cancer or other conditions. Breast shape and volume can be restored with implants or a patient’s own tissue (DIEP flap), or a combination of both. Breast reconstruction is an integral component of a woman’s breast cancer journey.
Breast reconstruction may be performed immediately after a mastectomy during the same surgery, depending on the specific circumstances and patient choice. Breast cancer treatment is physically and emotionally demanding, and competing life priorities often make it necessary for patients to take their time deciding whether breast reconstruction is right for them. It is not unusual for patients to have breast reconstruction later in life. However, most patients often find it a rewarding experience to help their confidence as a woman.
During your consultation with Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Alaina Taylor, she will discuss your general health, current cancer treatment, and your journey towards recovery. Dr Taylor spends as much time as required with each patient to explain their reconstructive options in detail. She will help you to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches so that you can make an informed choice, and any questions you have will be answered. She will work with you to ensure you feel comfortable during your consultation, understanding your concerns and anticipated goals for breast reconstruction. Photographs must be taken of your chest area, but all images remain strictly confidential on your medical record. Dr Taylor works with well known Breast Surgeons throughout Sydney, and together they will develop a procedure plan tailored to your specific circumstances. Every reconstructive surgery is personalised to the patient, as various factors must be considered.
There are different types of breast reconstruction surgery, including implant reconstruction, autologous reconstruction (meaning using your tissue), which is transferred as a “flap,” or a combination of the two. Fat transfer is another method but is rarely sufficient as a standalone technique. The choice of which way to use will vary depending on your specific circumstances, body, general health, and preference. Breast reconstruction is performed in stages. You may need to undergo multiple procedures to achieve your preferred results. The first stage of the process is to reconstruct the breast(s).
Additional stages can be performed, including;
- Nipple areola reconstruction
- Breast lift/reduction, breast augmentation and lipo filling to the unaffected breast to achieve symmetry
- Any additional sculpting, lifting or size adjustments to the reconstructed breast(s)
Dr Taylor is focused on ensuring the best possible aesthetic outcome and recovery from your first surgery so that her patients feel confident to focus on moving forward with their lives without a sense of urgency to undergo any additional stages.
Types of breast reconstruction surgery
- Implant reconstruction
This type of reconstruction involves inserting a breast implant into the breast pocket, which would have been created during your mastectomy, to recreate the shape and size of the breasts. You will need to discuss with Dr Taylor if this type of reconstruction is suitable, considering the potential risks and complications associated with breast implants and your preferences on appearance and feel.
- Tissue flap reconstruction
This type of reconstruction uses your skin, fat, and muscle to rebuild the breast. The most typical procedure performed in this category, and the gold standard procedure for breast reconstruction, is the abdominally based DIEP flap ( Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator Flap) or TRAM (Transverse Rectus Abdominis Muscle Flap), which is raised from the abdomen and transferred to the chest as a free tissue transplant using microsurgical techniques and shaped into a new breast. Other sites that can be utilised for breast reconstruction include the back, buttocks or hips.
The specific reconstruction surgery you may undergo will vary based on your current or previous cancer treatment, health and medical history, breast size and shape, and your preferences for breast appearance.
Your length of surgery, hospital stay, overall recovery time and return to normal activities will depend on the extent and complexity of your surgery.
Risks and complications
Risks and complications are present with any procedure you may undergo, and it is essential to be aware of them before deciding on surgery. Potential risks and complications associated with breast reconstruction surgery include:
Wound healing issues
Changes to sensation
Asymmetry and contour irregularities
Implant complications like infection, capsular contracture and implant rupture
Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
Following Dr Taylor’s post-procedure instructions will be vital in helping to reduce the potential for complications and minimise scarring.
Breast reconstruction is a vital component of the overall treatment and recovery process for women who have undergone mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery.
It aims to restore the physical appearance of the breast and there is strong evidence of the beneficial impact of breast reconstruction on psychosocial recovery from breast cancer and quality of life.
The impact of breast cancer and mastectomy extends beyond the physical changes. It can significantly affect a woman’s emotional well-being, confidence, and body image.
Preparing for Breast Reconstruction In North Sydney and North Shore
Before undergoing breast reconstruction, it is important for women to be psychologically prepared for the procedure.
This involves understanding the potential physical changes, setting realistic expectations, and seeking emotional support. Consulting with healthcare professionals, Psychologists, and support groups can assist in addressing any concerns or fears.
Physical Evaluation and Medical Considerations
During the preoperative phase, a thorough physical evaluation is conducted to assess a woman’s overall health and determine her suitability for breast reconstruction.
Factors such as general health, previous surgeries, and the presence of other medical conditions are taken into account. Close collaboration between the patient and the surgical team ensures a comprehensive evaluation and personalised treatment plan.
Choosing the Right Timing
Immediate vs. Delayed Reconstruction
Reconstruction of the breast can be performed either promptly following a mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or at a later date (delayed reconstruction).
Immediate reconstruction offers the advantage of a single surgical procedure, avoiding the emotional impact of waking up without a breast. Delayed reconstruction provides time for emotional healing, additional treatment, and consideration of reconstruction options.
Factors Influencing the Decision
The decision between immediate and delayed reconstruction depends on various factors such as cancer stage and recommended cancer treatment protocols, need for additional treatments (e.g., radiation therapy), personal preferences and overall health.
Open communication with the surgical team, oncologists, and other healthcare providers helps women make informed decisions based on their unique circumstances.
Recovery and Post-Operative Care
Hospital Stay and Immediate Recovery
Following breast reconstruction, a hospital stay is typically required to monitor the initial recovery. The length of stay in the hospital differs depending on the surgical technique and individual progress.
Pain management, wound care, and monitoring for potential complications are vital during this phase.
Pain Management and Discomfort
Pain and discomfort are common after breast surgery but can be effectively managed through a combination of pain medications, proper wound care, and follow-up visits.
Following the specialist breast surgeon’s post-operative instructions and good nutrition, is important for recovery.
Follow-up Appointments and Monitoring
Follow-up appointments with your breast reconstruction surgeon are essential to monitor your recovery, wound healing, address any concerns and identify any potential complications.
Emotional Support During the Recovery Process
Breast reconstruction is not only a physical journey but also an emotional one. Emotional support from family, support groups, or Psychologists can be invaluable during the recovery process. Engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or joining online communities, can also be helpful.
Embracing Life After Breast Cancer
Breast reconstruction signifies a new chapter in a woman’s life after breast cancer. It symbolises resilience, strength, and the ability to move forward with renewed hope and confidence. Embracing life after breast cancer surgery involves focusing on overall wellness, pursuing personal goals, and embracing the opportunities that lie ahead.
Encouragement to Explore Options and Seek Professional Advice
Each woman’s breast reconstruction journey is unique, and it is important to explore all available options and seek advice from experienced medical professionals. Consulting with Plastic Surgeons specialising in breast reconstruction can provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to individual circumstances.
Breast reconstruction is not just about restoring physical appearance. It is a journey of empowerment, resilience, and reclaiming one’s sense of self.
As women embark on their breast reconstruction journey, it is crucial to explore all available options, seek advice from an experienced breast surgeon like Dr. Taylor, and find support from loved ones, support groups, or counselling services.
By doing so, women can make informed decisions, address their emotional needs, and build resilience throughout the process.
Breast reconstruction surgery is a pivotal component of comprehensive breast cancer treatment. Dr Alaina Taylor, a renowned plastic surgeon based in North Sydney, possesses vast expertise in this intricate procedure. Through aesthetic surgery, she has provided countless patients with renewed self-confidence and a sense of wholeness.
Breast cancer survivors often face a difficult journey. After undergoing procedures to treat the disease, many seek reconstructive surgery as a way to regain their body’s natural form.
Dr Taylor, with her team of skilled breast surgeons, carefully assesses each patient’s unique needs. They weigh the merits of autologous breast reconstruction, which uses a patient’s own tissue, against other techniques.
Breast enlargement, while typically an aesthetic surgery, can be a part of the reconstructive process. Dr Taylor ensures that every step taken aligns with the patient’s expectations and desires. She ensures seamless integration of oncological and plastic surgery techniques.
Furthermore, the world of plastic surgery extends beyond reconstruction. Dr Alaina Taylor not only excels in breast surgery but also demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to advancing the field.
Patients can trust that, under her guidance, they will receive a combination of the best medical care and a specialist’s touch, enhancing both form and function.