Breast reconstruction: what does it mean?
Breast reconstruction after cancer is designed to restore woman’s femininity and attractiveness. The patients may feel a full-fledged woman after this procedure. Breast reconstruction – is a surgery, which is taken by women who won breast cancer. The purpose of this procedure is to restore the shape of the mammary glands, and correct the asymmetry resulting from surgery.
Most often, women, who have experienced a mastectomy, turn for help of plastic surgeons for breast reconstruction. Mastectomy – is a surgery of breast removal because of cancer. The main goal of breast reconstruction – is to reduce psychological discomfort and improve the perception of your own body. It is proved that breast reconstruction after the tumor removal does not increase the risk of recurrent malignant process.
Breast reconstruction after breast cancer can be performed during the immediate removal of the tumor, or sometime after. Breast reconstruction is carried out during the removal of tumors in the case if the disease was found in the early stages. Thus, the tumor is removed, and then the implant is engrafted into the breast to restore and maintain the correct shape of it. If metastases were found, the operation is carried out within a few months after the removal of tumors, and after passing inspection and radiation therapy if it was necessary.
Breast reconstruction after mastectomy can be performed in several technologies:
- Simple compensation of volume.
- Reconstruction using tissues.
- Reconstruction using implants.
The result, obtained in the course of breast reconstruction, depends on how a mastectomy was performed. The close cooperation of experts in the field of oncology and plastic surgeons is needed to make this procedure successful.
Breast reconstruction using breast-implants
One of the popular methods of breast reconstruction – is a two-stage reconstruction with the breast implants. This procedure can be performed at the same time with the mastectomy or be delayed. A temporary tissue stretcher, the so-called expander, is placed into the breast. Expander is gradually pumped with physiological saline solution, thereby it expands the surrounding tissue, opens the space for future implant. The body gradually gets used to the growing expander inside; the tissues are stretched in the same manner as the belly of a pregnant woman.
Endoprosthesis – is a breast reconstruction with the help of special devices, expanders and implants, which are placed under the muscles of the anterior chest wall.
The expander – is a silicone balloon, the volume of which can be increased by filling it with saline. Expander is designed to stretch the skin and to form the place under the pectoral muscles. The “pumping” of expander is performed via the built port located on its front surface. Modern expanders, used for breast reconstruction, differ in shapes, sizes, surface textures, and locations of the pumping valves.
The breast-implant – is a sealed bag of spherical shape, covered with a silicone shell and filled with silicone gel or saline. It is designed to compensate volume and simulate the anatomical shape of the breast. By the nature of the surface the breast implants are divided into smooth and textured (scabrous).
Textured type of breast-implants is designed to reduce the risk of capsular contracture. Small villis of implant grow into the breast tissue and create a buffer area without giving a chance to rough scar tissue to be formed. In addition, textured shell is capable of causing the growth of formed connective tissue.
There are two shapes of breast implants: round and anatomical. Round ones are spherical, and the anatomical – have the shape of the drop, it means, simulate anatomically correct shape of female breast and provide a more natural esthetic result. Round shaped implants are generally selected by patients with small breast size without ptosis. Teardrop-shaped (anatomical) implants more often used by patients with minimal ptosis, and the average size of the breasts. In some cases, round implants could provide enough natural breast shape too. Hence, the decision “round or anatomical” should be taken together with a specialist.
According to the composition of the filler, breast implants are divided into gel or saline. Saline implants are filled with saline. In case of violation of the implant integrity, saline flows and will be absorbed without causing any side effects, but at the same time the implant loses its shape and becomes flat. Gel implants are filled with silicone cohesive gel, a transparent and viscous substance. It has a thick texture and “remembers” the shape of the implant. The implant does not flow and it retains the shape in case of shell damage. All anatomical implants are filled with a highly cohesive gel with a “shape memory”. Also, the patient noted the differences in wearing gel and saline implants. The physiological saline is a liquid that’s why it can flows inside the implant, gurgling and forming creases. Silicone breast-implants looks more like a natural breast, although the cohesive gel may seem quite solid to the touch.
Indications and contraindications of reconstruction
How much do breast implants cost?
You must make sure to account all of the fees while estimating the cost of breast reconstruction surgery. It’s better for you to meet with several surgeons and estimate not only their fees but also additional related expenses. A surgeon’s cost of the breast reconstruction can vary in accordance with her or his experience. Prices of this surgery may differ from city to city too.
Typical prices of breast reconstruction (including the cost of breast implants) are usually about $5,000 – $15,000 per breast without health insurance (total price for two breasts is $10,000 – $30,000). Reconstruction of breast after mastectomy with “flap” techniques (with use of tissue from the patient’s body for creation of new breasts) is usually costs $25,000 – $50,000 or more per breast without health insurance. In general, breast reconstruction is covered by health insurance if it’s done after a mastectomy.
There are some additional costs that could be needed. It’s necessary to replace the breast implant after about 10-15 years after breast reconstruction and usually the insurance covers this expense. It’s possible to make a nipple reconstruction getting a tattooed nipple and areola. This procedure typically costs $200 – $600 per breast, but some plastic surgeon or permanent makeup artist do it for free for breast cancer survivors.
We collected for you some breast implants before/after photos to convince you that a mastectomy is not the end of sexuality but one of the steps to the main goal – a victory over the breast cancer. Plastic surgery and tattoos will help your breasts look natural, attractive and beautiful again.