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Breast reconstruction restores the shape of one’s breasts following either a partial or full mastectomy or lumpectomy. Mastectomy is the surgical removal of one or both breasts, either partially or completely, to prevent or treat breast cancer.
A lumpectomy involves the removal of the tumor from the breast and some surrounding areas. During the reconstruction procedure, the breast shape is created by Dr. Kirk using either a flap of tissue from another part of the body or with artificial implants; in some cases, both techniques are used.
The process of reconstructing one or both the breasts can start at the time of mastectomy or be delayed (delayed reconstruction). The procedure can require two or more surgical sessions.
There are two types of breast-reconstruction techniques: implant-based reconstruction and flap reconstruction.
During an implant-based-reconstruction procedure, Dr. Kirk inserts implants that have been filled with either silicone gel or a saline solution. The implant is placed under the pectoral chest muscle or on top of it.
For implant reconstruction, the durations of the surgery and recovery time are shorter than those of flap reconstruction. However, it may require additional surgery in the future, as the implants can wear out or cause other issues, such as rippling of the breast skin or a feeling of tightness.
Dr. Kirk may choose to insert tissue expanders under or over the chest muscles before implant reconstruction in order to make room for the implants. Every week or so, saline is injected into the expander until the overlying tissues are adequately stretched. Then, Dr. Kirk will remove the expanders and replace them with implants during a second surgery.
Flap-reconstruction surgery is a procedure that involves using a flap of skin, muscle, and fatty tissue from another part of the body, such as the thigh, back, or abdomen, to rebuild the shape of the breast. In some cases, implants may be used in addition to the body’s tissues.
Tissue flaps generally behave and look more like natural breasts. They may increase or decrease in size if you experience weight gain after your initial surgery. However, the procedure involves two surgical sites: the area from where the tissue is sourced and the reconstructed breast.
Am I a Good Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Since healthy blood vessels are needed for the tissues’ blood supply, this procedure is not suited for people who smoke or have uncontrolled diabetes, vascular diseases, or any connective-tissue disease.
During your consultation, it is important to talk to Dr. Kirk about any medications you may be taking, as well as your medical history and any current treatments you may be undergoing. After gathering all of your medical information, Dr. Kirk will decide if you qualify for breast-reconstruction surgery.
Dr. Kirk will discuss the aforementioned reconstruction options with you and will help you choose the appropriate technique. Make sure to ask any questions you may have.
Healing and Recovery
Following Dr. Kirk’s post-surgical care directions is vital for minimizing potential complications during recovery. Typically, you will be sore for a few weeks following your procedure. Dr. Kirk may prescribe medication that can help manage pain.
Generally, many patients can return to their normal, daily activities six weeks after their breast reconstruction. Do not perform any strenuous activities or do any heavy lifting after your procedure.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you think you’re a good candidate for breast reconstruction, contact the office of Dr. Sofia Kirk today for a personalized consultation. Dr. Kirk will be able to show you before-and-after photos and can discuss the procedure with you in greater detail.