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Q&A: Your questions answered about reconstructive breast surgery

October 30, 2019 | by CTCA

Twitter chat - breast reconstruction
In a recent chat on Twitter (#AskCTCA), Daniel Liu, MD, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at our hospital in Chicago, answered your questions about breast surgery options and got down to the basics of breast reconstruction.

For decades, women facing breast cancer surgery had few options. Many women underwent radical mastectomies, an extensive operation pioneered by William Halsted, MD, that removed the breast, pectoral muscle, lymph nodes and surrounding tissue. Breast reconstruction often was not a consideration.

Today, woman have many options when it comes to breast cancer surgeries and breast reconstruction. In a recent chat on Twitter (#AskCTCA), Daniel Liu, MD, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at our hospital in Chicago, answered your questions about breast surgery options and got down to the basics of breast reconstruction.

Question: What is breast reconstruction?

Answer: Breast reconstruction uses plastic surgery techniques to restore the breast(s) after total or partial mastectomy.

Q: What breast reconstruction options are available?

A: Breast reconstruction after mastectomy may include implants, your own tissue, or a combination of the two.

Q: Who is a candidate for breast reconstruction?

A: Anyone with realistic goals for restoring her breast(s), provided she has no medical conditions that may impair healing.

Get answers to common questions about breast reconstruction.

Q: How many surgeries will I need for reconstruction?

A: Two to three steps are often necessary to complete reconstruction, although just one step may be possible for some women.

Q: How long will it take to recover from breast reconstruction?

A: Breast reconstruction is usually well tolerated, and most women feel back to normal four to six weeks after surgery.

Q: I am worried about how well my treated breast will heal. What are the risks of having a lift and reduction performed after lumpectomy and radiation?

A: Radiation increases the risks of infection, wound healing and abnormal scarring in breast tissue because it affects circulation and oxygen in the tissue. That’s why we often recommend oncoplastic reconstruction in combination with a lumpectomy before radiation, although there are certain patients who may qualify for a breast lift and reduction after a lumpectomy and radiation.

Learn about the importance of physical therapy after breast surgery.

Q: Will breast reconstruction leave scars?

A: All surgery results in some scarring, but we work to hide them using new techniques and plastic surgery principles.

Q: What are the options for nipple reconstruction?

A: Nipple reconstruction can be achieved with 3D tattooing alone or a minor procedure using adjacent breast skin followed by tattooing for more realistic results.

Q: What are reconstruction options for patients that are unhappy with implants?

A: Unsatisfactory implant reconstruction may be due to scar tissue or radiation. Options include autologous breast reconstruction, such as a DIEP flap and implant plane change if the previous was placed under the pectoralis muscle.

If you have additional questions on the topic, go to  #AskCTCA and include your questions in the comments.

Get answers to common questions about breast cancer.