Having a mastectomy or invasive lumpectomy will lead to significant changes in your breast. Before the procedure, you will need to decide whether you want to have your breasts reconstructed or not. If you want a breast reconstruction procedure, there are various factors you should consider before reaching a decision.
Implants Or Tissue Transfer
Breast reconstruction generally consists of either implants or autologous reconstruction. With implants, saline or silicone implants are inserted into the chest. They may be placed behind the muscle in some women and once the implants are placed, they are filled to a predetermined amount with silicone or saline to allow the implants to reach the desired size. An autologous reconstruction uses your own tissue to reconstruct the breast. The tissue is often harvested from the abdomen, since it is closer to the chest and a flap can be rotated and attached to the chest. Depending on your size, you may need to gain a little extra weight so you have excess tissue for the reconstruction. In both types of reconstruction, you will likely have a nipple constructed out of skin if it was removed during a mastectomy. The areola and nipple can be tattooed to mimic the normal pigmentation.
Consider The Recovery
One factor in the way your breasts are reconstructed is the difficulty of recovering from surgery. Some women who are going into surgery to remove one or both breasts try to work with their surgeons on an approach that might involve a longer surgery time, but both the mastectomy and reconstruction are done on the same day. This can make recovery easier, since you will recover from both procedures at the same time instead of doing two separate procedures. Depending on the amount of residual tissue remaining after a mastectomy, your surgeons might be able to insert implants. Some women who want to use their own tissue might also have the opportunity to do it on the same day.
There may be aesthetic differences in different types of reconstruction that can influence your decision. For example, if you are concerned about the size, shape, and feel of your breast reconstruction, you might want implants since it is easier to control these variables. An autologous reconstruction will likely lead to a more natural-feeling breast, but they are also vulnerable to normal changes that occur to fat deposits on your body. If you lose weight, they will lose volume, as well. There is also the chance of your breast reconstruction failing if the fat and tissue does not have adequate blood supply. With implants, there are numerous variations in the types of implants available, which can give them a more natural appearance and shape. If you choose implants, there is always the risk of rejection or encapsulation since it is a foreign object.
The decision to have breast reconstruction is not always easy. Fortunately, there are many factors that can make the process easier and give you a reconstruction that mimics your natural breasts.