01 Nov 2018 Common Questions about Breast Reconstruction
Only 1 out of 10 women in Australia have Breast Reconstruction after mastectomy, a much lower statistic than other countries such as America and the United Kingdom. The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) suggests the reason for such a low rate in Australia is due to lack of awareness and information regarding the procedure.
Dr Safvat, a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, frequently performs Breast Reconstruction and it is one of his areas of interest & expertise. Breast reconstruction, although rewarding and with a high patient satisfaction rate, can be at times quite a complex procedure. There are often questions that come up when women are considering Breast Reconstruction and we have answered some of these questions below as a starting point. During an initial consultation, Dr Safvat will answer all questions you may have in detail so that you are fully informed about the options and the Breast Reconstruction procedure.
What is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction rebuilds the breast, either in full or partially to match the normal breast in shape and size, after having breast cancer treatment (mastectomy or partial breast resection).
What are the benefits of breast reconstruction?
Women react differently to losing a breast and that is completely normal. Some may experience an ongoing sense of loss about giving up a part of their body. Breast Reconstruction can help in the psychological and emotional recovery following mastectomy and breast cancer. It’s an important step for women to restore their sense of femininity, and to regain self-confidence.
When can Breast Reconstruction be performed?
Breast reconstruction can be done at the same time as the mastectomy (immediate) or after all the treatments for the breast cancer are completed (delayed). The best time will vary from patient to patient depending on patients’ preference and also on what other treatments are required for the cancer. Dr Safvat will work closely with your other specialists to obtain the best possible cancer treatment as well as optimal results for the reconstruction.
What types of Breast Reconstructions are available?
Generally, there are two main techniques used in a breast reconstruction:
Alloplastic reconstruction – this involves using implants to replace the existing breasts.
Autologous reconstruction – In this method patient’s own existing tissues (skin, fat or muscle) from another part of the body is used to create a new breast. This tissue (or flap) can be taken from abdomen, back, inner thighs or buttocks. It can be as free tissue transfer where the arteries and veins are preserved, cut (for eg from the abdomen) and then attached micro surgically to the blood vessels of the chest wall. If tissue is taken from the abdomen, which is the most common area, it has the added advantage of getting a ‘tummy tuck’ (abdominoplasty) at the same time.
There are different factors that can affect the choice of reconstruction. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages which will be discussed during the consultation with Dr Safvat at length.
Can the Nipple be reconstructed?
Nipple reconstruction is optional after breast reconstruction. Some women are happy with the look of their new breast without a nipple, while others prefer to have a full reconstruction including the nipple.
Nipple reconstruction is usually done as the last stage of breast reconstruction to allow the reconstructed breast to settle into its final shape. This is done by raising flaps of the reconstructed breast and sewn together to make a nipple. Later on, the areola is tattooed in the appropriate colour to match the opposite side.
What is Recovery from Breast Reconstruction like?
Depending on the type of reconstruction hospital stays varies between 2-8 days. This is to help recover from the surgery as well as manage your pain and any possible drains. For microsurgical reconstructions your flap will be monitored very closely in the first 48 hours.
On your return home, you will need someone to help you around. The recovery period does depend on the type of reconstruction you have had. However, it is normal to feel tired and sore for the first few days to weeks. You will have several post-operative visits with Dr Safvat to ensure everything is healing as it should.
What are the costs involved?
Generally, breast reconstruction should be covered by Private Health Insurance, although insurance policies vary greatly so it is highly recommended that your check with your insurer to determine if you are covered.
If you elect to have the procedure done with Dr Safvat as a public patient, there will be waiting times involved.
A personalised estimate of Dr Safvat’s fees (as well as any other fees and rebates) will be given to you after assessment and consultation.
Further information about Breast Reconstruction with Dr Safvat can be found here. Alternatively, you can contact our office on 8544 3270 with any questions or to make an appointment for a consultation.