After breast cancer surgery, many women are left feeling hopeless and incomplete. The body they once had is no longer complete, and the fear of rejection by a loved one is a constant fear in many womens' minds. When breast reconstruction became an option, the hopelessness and fear was lifted from the hearts and minds of these women because with breast reconstruction, they could once again be whole.
There are women who undergo mastectomies that consider breast reconstruction surgery as important as the mastectomy itself. Out of the 78,000 women who underwent a mastectomy, over 57,000 opted for reconstruction, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. For those women who did not receive reconstruction, reasons included financial hard, and lack of understanding of what the procedure was.
The goal in any type of breast reconstruction is to create a breast from the remaining breast mound that will comfortably match the remaining breast if surgery was performed on one breast or too create two breasts that fit the size and shape of a woman's body. A plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction usually preforms the procedure, which can be done immediately after surgery or can be delayed for some time after the mastectomy. In some cases, smaller surgeries may need to occur to reshape the breast area and to create a place for thee areola and nipple.
As far as types of reconstruction procedures, there are two known as prosthetic and autogenous. In prosthetic reconstruction, the breast mound is recreated using an artificial implant. Autogenous reconstruction makes use of a woman's own tissue from other parts of her body, like the back or abdomen, to create a new breast. Surgeons will recommend options based on the amount of reconstructive surgery necessary and the shape and size of a woman's breasts. Once the breast has been recreated, a surgeon will reconstruct the nipple. Nipple reconstruction usually takes place a short while after the breast reconstruction in order to accommodate any changes that may occur following the first months after reconstruction.
Many surgeons agree that silicone implants are more popular than ever in breast implant procedures and far outweigh the use of saline because they tend to be softer and have less of a rippling appearance. There is a new generation of silicone implants being used called the "gummy bear," which have a very natural feel and look.
Procedures for women who have undergone lumpectomies as well as mastectomies include fat injections, which help to correct deformities created after surgery, and stem cells from fat to address deformities is also under study.