Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction aims to create a breast that resembles a natural breast in appearance and form. This is done by either using the woman’s own tissues or an implant.

Breast Reconstruction Consultation

for breast reconstruction requires a number of decisions to be made by the woman. Decisions will depend on both the woman wants and the nature of her tumour and any other treatments she requires after surgery such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The first issue to discuss is the timing of the reconstructive surgery:

  • Immediate reconstruction – the surgery occurs at the time the breast cancer is being treated or
  • Delayed reconstruction – reconstruction occurs sometime after the cancer surgery.

Next the type of reconstruction is discussed. There are 3 main options –

  • TRAM flap – this takes tissue from the lower abdomen. This reconstruction only uses a woman’s own tissue
  • Expander/Implant Reconstruction – this often requires 2 operations. The first operation inserts an empty silicone bag under the skin and muscle where the mastectomy has removed the breast tissue. This silicone bag is then inflated over about 2 months and then replaced by a permanent implant in the second operation. This type of reconstruction is sometimes performed in 1 operation.
  • Latissimus Dorsi Reconstruction – skin and muscle are taken from the back to create the breast. This often requires an implant to be used as well.

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

depends on the type of surgery that is being undertaken.

  • TRAM flap – takes 4-5 hours and requires a hospital stay of 5-7 days.
  • Implant – both operations take 1-2 hours and a hospital stay of 1-3 days.
  • Latissimus Dorsi +/- implant – takes 3-4 hours and a hospital stay of 4-5 days.

After Surgery

full recovery will vary from 2 to 6 weeks depending on the type of surgery. There may be further surgeries required to complete the reconstruction such as nipple reconstruction.