Cosmetic Surgeons London

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Breast

Procedures

Breast » Breast Reconstruction After Cancer

Why choose us for Breast and Nipple Reconstruction?

  • You will be seen and operated on by a fully qualified BAAPS/BAPRAS Consultant plastic surgeon who has specialist microsurgical training in breast reconstruction within the UK and Internationally.
  • Our breast implants come with a lifetime guarantee against rupture.
  • Our prices are competitive and represent outstanding results.
  • We provide a personal and holistic service to our patients
  • We pride ourselves in NEVER having used PIP implants.
  • We put you safety first!

Loss of part or the entire breast following breast cancer surgery can be devastating to ladies at any stage of their life. Breast reconstruction is an integral component of management following breast cancer.

Cosmetic Surgeons London provides a reconstruction service to suit all ladies. Your surgeon will discuss all the options in detail with you and select what is best for you.

Overview

1 in 10 ladies are affected by breast cancer during their lifetime. 40% of these ladies undergo a mastectomy (complete removal of breast). Many of these ladies are psychologically and physically devastated as a result. Cosmetic Surgeons London will help ladies like you onto the path to normality.

Breast reconstruction aims to restore the normal size, shape and feel of the breast following surgery. This helps in the restoration of physical and psychological wellbeing and can result in a marked improvement in your quality of life. It is important to realise that reconstruction surgery can give you a relatively natural-looking breast however a reconstructed breast will never look or feel exactly the same as the breast that was removed.

Am I a suitable candidate for breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction differs from lady to lady. You should do it for yourself and not for someone else. Breast reconstruction is a good option if:

  • You are able to cope well with your diagnosis and treatment
  • You do not have additional medical conditions or other illnesses that may impair healing
  • You have a positive attitude and realistic goals for restoring your breast and body image

When should breast reconstruction be done?

Typically breast reconstruction involves many procedures performed in multiple stages. Usually, your reconstruction can be carried out at the time of your mastectomy ("immediate" breast reconstruction) or it can be carried out several months to years after your mastectomy ("delayed" breast reconstruction) when all treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy have been completed. In most cases when the lady is due to receive post-operative radiotherapy as part of the management of her breast cancer, the reconstruction is "delayed". Radiotherapy can unfavourably affect the aesthetic result of the reconstructed breast.

What options do you have for breast reconstruction?

There are many ways of reconstructing your breast:

  • Breast Implant / Tissue Expander
  • Autologous Tissues + Breast Implant/Tissue Expander
  • Autologous Tissues (using your own tissues only)

In certain situations, a breast implant is the best way to reconstruct your breast. In other situations, muscle tissue and fat can be transferred from your back and brought around to the front to create a breast (Extended Latissimus Dorsi flap). In other cases, the latissimus dorsi flap can be used to cover a breast implant or tissue expander. In appropriately selected ladies, the gold standard operation is that of a free flap reconstruction. This involves taking tissue from the abdomen (DIEP flap), buttock areas (S-GAP flap) or other areas and transferring this tissue with its blood supply to the chest. This involves complex microsurgical techniques to join the blood vessels of the transferred tissue to the blood vessels in the chest. The tissue is then shaped to create a breast.

Which is the best option for me?

Cosmetic Surgeons London will ensure you have been informed about the pros and cons of each procedure. Your surgeon will engage in a detailed discussion with you and advise you on the most favourable breast reconstruction procedure. The optimal reconstruction for you will be discussed in detail with you by your surgeon. Your surgeon is fully qualified in all the above surgical techniques.

When is nipple reconstruction performed?

Nipple reconstruction is often performed as the final procedure in your series of breast reconstruction procedures once all minor adjustments have been carried out. It can be carried out under local anaesthesia as a day case procedure.

What techniques are used for nipple reconstruction?

There are a variety of techniques described for nipple reconstruction. More accurately, we tend to refer to reconstructing the nipple-areolar complex (i.e. the nipple itself and the surrounding areola). Techniques involve using:

  • tissue from your other nipple (if the other one is large enough) OR
  • local skin and fat to make a new nipple
  • local skin and fat and putting some cartilage underneath your nipple to help maintain projection

It is important to be realistic and to realise that your new nipple will not have the same feeling as your original nipple.

What techniques are used for areolar reconstruction?

The gold standard technique is that using tattooing. Areolar tattooing provides the best colour match and has superseded mediocre old techniques using full thickness skin grafts. Areolar tattooing can be carried out under local anaesthetic or sometimes without. More than one session of tattooing is often required to get the best colour match.

You (the Patient's) Journey

Before the operation

You will have seen your surgeon on more than one occasion to fully answer all your questions. It is important to avoid medications, if possible, such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) e.g Ibuprofen (Nurofen), Sodium Diclofenac (Voltarol) for 1 week before surgery. These tablets may increase bleeding during and after surgery. It is advisable to stop smoking 6 weeks before and after surgery from both a wound healing and an anaesthetic perspective.

The operation

You will be admitted to hospital on the morning of surgery and your surgeon along with his consultant anaesthetist will come and discuss the surgical plan again with you and make some marks on your skin with pen. You will be required to have a general anaesthetic. Depending on which breast reconstruction procedure has been chosen, the operation can vary from 1 - 9 hours. All the stitches used will be dissolving in order to maximise comfort for you. Stitch removal may cause discomfort for some patients. Cosmetic Surgeons London always puts your comfort first. You will wake up with dressings in place before being taken to the ward. Drains may be used depending on the reconstructive procedure carried out. In general, you will need to stay in hospital at least 1-2 nights and maybe 1 week depending on the procedure undertaken. You will need to have a friend or family member to drive you to and from the hospital.

Recovery

You will experience some degree of bruising, swelling, and discomfort all of which improve by the day. Our consultant anaesthetist will prescribe you adequate medication to take home to alleviate any discomfort you may experience. You are encouraged to walk around the ward as soon as you feel up to it - this may be the same day or a few days later depending on the procedure undertaken. It is important not to get the dressings wet after surgery and you will be advised on showering. Depending on your type of work and the operation undertaken you may return to work between 7-14 days after your procedure. No heavy lifting or strenuous exercise for 6 weeks. It will take approximately 3 months before the swelling completely subsides and the final result seen. The scar will continue to improve for up to 18 months and you are encouraged to firmly massage the scar after 4 weeks. Your surgeon will closely follow your recovery to ensure you are able to resume normal exercising and activities. It is suggested you wear a sports support bra for 6 weeks.

Further details and risks of the procedures will be discussed in detail at the consultation with your surgeon.

Useful Sources of Information for Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is a physically and emotionally rewarding procedure for a lady. The reconstruction of a new breast can significantly improve your self-image, self-confidence and quality of life

Summary

Operation Time 1 - 9 hours (variable)
Anaesthetic General Anaesthesia
Nights in hospital 1-7 nights (variable)
How much time off work? 3-6 weeks (variable)
When can I exercise? After 6 weeks

Cosmetic Surgeons London always puts your comfort and safety first!

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