Breast Reconstruction Facts
Breast reconstruction refers to one or more operations performed to restore some of the components of the breast of women who have undergone mastectomy (removal of the entire breast). Breast reconstruction after mastectomy has evolved over the last several decades to become an integral component in the therapy for many women with breast cancer. A complete breast reconstruction includes recreating the breast mound, the nipple and areola complex so that the breasts are symmetric with regard to pigmentation, shape, size, projection, and position.
The goals of breast reconstruction include the following:
- to provide permanent breast contour
- to make the breasts look balanced
- to give the convenience of not requiring an external prosthesis
Breast reconstruction can be performed using the following:
- artificial material (silicone shell filled with either silicone gel or saline [a salt-water solution]) placed under the skin
- The woman's own tissues (skin, muscle, fat) from another part of the body (flap reconstruction).
- Pedicled flap: In this type of flap reconstruction, the tissues remain partially connected to the area of the body from which they are taken. Specifically, the original blood supply to the transplanted tissues is left intact.
- Free flap: In this type of flap reconstruction, the tissues are cut off from the original area and grafted to the chest. The blood vessels are attached to establish a new blood supply is created for the grafted tissues.
- a combination of artificial material and the woman's own tissues
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2016
Leigh A Neumayer, MD, MS, FACS
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