Breast Reconstruction (cont.)
In this Article
When Should Breast Reconstruction Be Performed?
Timing of reconstructive surgery is based on the patient's desires, medical conditions and cancer treatment. Whenever possible, plastic surgeons encourage women to begin breast reconstruction at the same time they are having their mastectomy. For many women, immediate reconstruction reduces the trauma of having a breast removed as well as the expense and discomfort of two major operations.
It is also possible to do breast reconstruction months or years after a mastectomy. If any chemotherapy or radiation treatments have already been started, reconstruction is usually postponed until those treatments are completed. Your surgical team can help you decide the appropriate timing for reconstruction.
What Are the Different Breast Reconstruction Options?
A variety of breast reconstructive techniques are available that offer cosmetically-appealing results. Multiple factors, such as the patient's goals, medical condition and previous surgery, are considered when choosing between reconstruction using breast implants or flaps of tissue moved from other parts of the body.
One procedure to consider after breast reconstruction is nipple reconstruction. Usually, the nipple and areola (the dark area around the nipple) is removed during mastectomy operation because it is breast tissue and is at risk for cancer recurrence.
Nipple/areola reconstruction is usually done at a later date after reconstruction of the breast is complete. This allows new breast tissue to heal and settle into place so minor adjustments in size and position can be carried out when the nipple and areola are reconstructed.
The nipple/areola reconstruction is typically an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Tissue for the nipple/areola is often taken from the newly constructed breast. To match the color of the nipple of the other breast and to create the areola, medical tattooing may be done.
The prosthetic nipple is another option that may be temporary or permanent. The plastic surgeon makes a copy of your natural nipple and colors the areola. It can be adhered to the breast using prosthetic glue and re-glued every week or so.
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