Breast Reconstruction FAQsBefore & After Photos
We hope to ease some of the confusion for women facing breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Birmingham plastic surgeon Dr. Beckenstein has provided answers to some of the most common questions that you can review before your consultation. When you meet with him, he will take the time to provide any clarification and answer your remaining questions.
Do I have to have breast reconstruction immediately after mastectomy
or can I wait?
Women who visit us in Birminghham can choose to have breast reconstruction performed either at the time of the mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or sometime afterwards (delayed reconstruction). Many women choose immediate reconstruction so they don't have to see themselves without a breast at all. Other advantages of immediate reconstruction include:
- Avoiding a subsequent surgery and recovery period
- Preempting scar tissue from forming after the mastectomy
- Utilizing remaining breast skin that is stretched to the size and shape of the original breast
In advanced breast cancer cases, the patient might be advised to delay the reconstruction until after the cancer is controlled. Also, sometimes patients need time to carefully weigh their options. Dr. Beckenstein will take the time to answer your questions and discuss all of your options with you to guide and support you through this very personal decision.
Dr. Beckenstein has also established the Alabama Breast Cancer Cooperative, a unique concept in comprehensive breast cancer care.
Is it true that recovery from breast reconstruction is painful?
Prescription medication, when taken on schedule, helps most patients effectively manage their discomfort. Breast reconstruction is somewhat more invasive than other surgeries; therefore you can expect to feel discomfort for several days or even a few weeks after your procedure. Depending on many factors, you might be offered an internal pain pump. Dr. Beckenstein will discuss pain management during your comprehensive consultation.
Can my nipple and areola be replaced after reconstruction?
Yes. For most women, reconstructing a nipple involves a second surgery to recreate the small projection of the nipple with some of the surrounding tissue. The areola is usually recreated by tattooing the skin around the nipple at a subsequent appointment after the new nipple has healed.
What are the benefits of autologous tissue reconstruction over using an implant?
Patients who've chosen autologous tissue reconstruction (such as the TRAM flap technique) often say their new breast feels very natural because it is composed of their own living skin and tissue. This technique does, however, involve more scars and a more involved recovery than the implant option.
Most of our breast reconstruction patients choose the implant option. This option replaces the breast volume with saline or silicone breast implants, similar to breast augmentation surgery. Patients choose the implant technique because of the aesthetic appearance, minimal surgery time, and quicker recovery. The disadvantages include the possibility of scar tissue build up and the need for a second surgery to replace the tissue expander with an implant.