Because losing a breast affects self-esteem and identity, women diagnosed with breast cancer are choosing to have breast reconstruction surgery. In fact, patients who undergo the procedure feel whole again because they feel more normal, natural and balanced with a reconstructed breast.
Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) is an established center for research that is renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities designed by our very own physicians. Striving to provide compassionate whole-person care, our highly qualified surgeons have years of clinical experience performing advanced reconstructive breast surgery procedures using implants and the body’s natural tissues.
Implant-Based vs. Tissue-Based Reconstruction
During implant reconstruction, the patient’s breast is surgically reconstructed by inserting an artificial breast mound known as the tissue expander/implant in a pocket formed beneath the muscle and remaining skin of the chest wall. In contrast, tissue-based reconstruction uses the patient’s own body tissue to recreate the breast mound. Natural tissue is typically derived from various sites of the body including the abdomen, back flap, buttocks as well as thighs.
While both major kinds of breast reconstruction procedures carry benefits and risks, patients will choose depending on their personal health, lifestyle, preference and surgeon’s recommendations. In the end, having breast reconstruction surgery has positively impacted our patients’ body image, sense of well-being and overall quality of life.
Our Stage 1 Breast Reconstruction Surgical Procedures
- Breast Reconstruction – Plastic surgeons recreate a breast that has been surgically removed using either a tissue expander/natural body tissue.
- Tissue Expander / Implant Technique – Implant reconstruction is a two-stage procedure. The initial stage involves the placement of a tissue expander – a silicone balloon filled with saline – beneath the remaining skin and chest wall muscle. Additional saline is gradually added to the tissue expander to stretch the muscle and skin, reaching the desired size. The second stage of implant reconstruction involves the removal of the tissue expander and replacing it with a permanent breast implant.
- Tissue-Based Reconstruction – Breast reconstruction without implants that usually involves the removal of tissue from other areas of the body to recreate either one or both breasts. For many patients, these types of procedures result in a more natural feeling and appearance of the reconstructed breast.
- Augmentation, Reduction or Lift (Mastopexy) on Native Breast for Symmetry Purposes – When patients have subtle differences in the shape or size of the breasts, the unaffected breast is corrected to achieve symmetry and equalization.
- Augmentation – Breast enlargement procedure using the placement of breast implants to match the reconstructed breast as closely as possible.
- Breast Reduction – The removal of skin and excess breast tissue to reduce the size of the breast, improving its shape and appearance.
- Breast Lift (Mastopexy) – A procedure to raise and reshape the breast by removing excess skin and tightening its surrounding tissue.
- Pedicle TRAM Flap – A type of TRAM flap procedure that uses the abdominal tissue for breast reconstruction. With the pedicle technique, the rectus abdominal muscle remains attached and is turned or folded on its blood supply and rotated up to the chest. Once the tissue is relocated to the mastectomy region, it is sculpted to look similar to the other breast.
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap – A tissue-based breast reconstructive procedure that uses muscle, skin and fat from the patient’s back while remaining attached to the blood supply. The tissue is passed underneath the chest well and brought forward to the mastectomy area to recreate the breast mound.
Free Tissue Transfer, or Free Flap, is a flap-type tissue reconstruction procedure that involves taking a flap from one part of the body and cutting it off from the artery and vein. Once disconnected, the flap is moved to the chest area and its blood vessels are plugged into and reconnected to the blood supply of the chest. Our procedures include:
- Free TRAM Flap (Tissue Transfer) – A procedure using skin and fat from the abdomen to reconstruct the breast without sacrificing the abdominal muscle. With the microvascular free flap technique, some or all of the rectus abdominal muscle is taken with the flap around the artery and vein, which is then reconnected to the blood supply in the chest.
Perforator Flap is a flap-type tissue reconstruction procedure that is a free flap, but instead of removing the muscle, the blood vessels perforate the muscle and shoot up to the subcutaneous fat and underneath the skin to feed the flap tissue. Our procedures include:
- DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) Flap – A tissue-based breast reconstructive procedure that uses only the skin and fat from the patient’s abdomen which is carefully detached from the blood supply and taken with the flap. Once transferred and reconnected to the chest, the tissue is carefully formed into a breast.
- SIEP Flap or SIEA (Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator) – A procedure using similar tissue from the abdomen as the DIEP Flap. The main difference is that the artery and vein used to supply blood flow to the new breast via the SIEP flap will lie closer to the skin surface than the DIEP flap.
- SGAP (Superior Gluteal Artery Perforator) Flap – A tissue-based breast reconstructive procedure that uses only skin and fat from the patient’s upper buttocks which is detached from the blood supply. Once the flap is transferred and its vessels are reconnected to the chest, a new breast is carefully shaped.
Make a Breast Reconstruction Appointment Today
When you lose a breast to cancer, it is comforting to know that surgical options are available for you to replace it and feel better about your body. Combined with the ease of scheduling an appointment, LLUMC’s highly accredited staff is deeply dedicated to helping you get back on track to a healthy life. Our commitment to whole person wellness begins with your request for a consultative appointment with one of our plastic surgeons. To set up a breast reconstruction appointment, please call us at 909-558-2100 or e-mail the Department of Plastic Surgery