Following a mastectomy (surgical removal of the entire breast) or partial mastectomy (surgical removal of a portion of the breast that contained the cancer), women are eligible candidates to correct breast-cancer related deformities via breast reconstruction surgery. Loma Linda University Medical Center’s (LLUMC) highly specialized plastic surgeons are committed to improving your life by discussing your breast reconstruction surgery options and techniques and ultimately determining the best procedure for you.
With the compassionate care and support of our plastic surgeons, patients undergoing the reconstructive surgical option will not only regain their physical selves, but renew their spirits and peace of mind.
What is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Breast reconstruction is a reconstructive surgical procedure performed on women to replace and rebuild the lost breast following a mastectomy. As nationally recognized leaders in their respective fields, our plastic surgeons recreate all or parts of a woman’s breast using a breast implant or natural tissue (i.e. muscle, skin or fat) from another part of the body. The reconstruction of the breast via expanders, implants or flap reconstruction achieves a more balanced and natural look, restoring the normal shape and size of the breast.
When is the Procedure Performed?
Committed to women’s physical, spiritual and mental health, LLUMC’s experienced staff educates and counsels patients in breast reconstruction procedures prior to mastectomy. Our patients are better informed to make decisions regarding reconstruction. Depending on their medical history, a recommendation is made for either:
- Immediate Reconstruction – reconstructive surgery that is performed simultaneously with a mastectomy
- Delayed Reconstruction – a follow-up operation that is performed once the patient completely recovers from the mastectomy
Benefits of Breast Reconstruction
For many women, losing a breast via a mastectomy negatively affects their self-esteem, identity and feelings of femininity. The benefits of breast reconstruction include:
- Renewal of self-confidence
- Improved breast appearance
- Better quality of life
- The patient feels whole again
Risks & Complications
There are always risks associated with surgery. Your doctor will discuss the risks and the possible complications with each patient individually based on the procedure that is going to be performed. You must approach any reconstructive surgery with realistic expectations. During the initial consultation with your doctor, these expectations along with the best surgical options for you will be discussed.
Health Insurance Coverage
Often times, patients are unaware that breast reconstruction is a benefit covered by insurance companies. To request more information, contact your health insurance provider or LLUMC’s knowledgeable staff to determine if you are an eligible candidate for breast reconstructive surgery.
Implant & Tissue-Based Surgeries
Using cutting-edge surgical techniques, our plastic surgeons have extensive experience performing two major types of reconstruction: implant- and tissue-based surgeries. While implant reconstruction involves putting in an artificial breast mound, natural tissue reconstruction uses your own body tissue to recreate a breast. Both offer acceptable outcomes to restore your appearance and get back on track to a healthy life.
Stage 2 Breast Reconstruction
Secondary reconstruction procedures correct problems or improve the cosmetic result of the breast mound. Our plastic surgeons are meticulous and methodical, dedicating themselves to improve the lives of women and make them whole again. Typically, these surgeries will be performed on the natural breast to closely resemble the reconstructed breast.
Matching Procedures for the Contralateral Breast – Procedures including augmentation, reduction or lift are performed to match the opposite breast more closely with the reconstructed breast.
Breast Implants – Implants come in different shapes, texture and sizes. Implants are placed beneath the chest muscle to recreate the shape and feel of the breast. This also helps reduce scar tissue formation around the implant.
Autologous Tissue Implant – Breast reconstruction without implants that usually involves the removal of fat and tissue from other areas of the body to recreate either one or both breasts. Many patients feel that these types of procedures result in a more natural feeling and appearance of the reconstructed breast.
Microvascular Free Flap – A reconstruction breast procedure which involves disconnecting the flap from the patient’s body then transplanting and reconnecting it to the blood supply in the chest. With microsurgery, our specially-trained surgeons work through a surgical microscope to reconnect the blood vessels of the flap to new blood vessel of the chest wall. This is a transplant of the patients own tissues. Once the blood flow is re-established, the tissue will live in its new location.
Nipple Areolar Reconstruction – A procedure to recreate the nipple and areola (the dark circle around the nipple), making the reconstructed breast mound appear more natural and complete. Commonly, the new nipple and areola is reconstructed using local skin flaps and tattooing to match the color of the opposite nipple.
Follow along what our patients go through as they make a decision to replace a breast from cancer. From initial consultation to life after breast reconstruction surgery, you’ll get a better sense of what our patients are feeling and experiencing as they go on a personal journey to reclaim their bodies, minds and spirits.