Breast cancer survivors endure tough treatments in order to beat cancer. They can face intense chemotherapy and invasive cancer removal surgery. When the tumor has to be removed surgically during a mastectomy, all of the breast tissue is removed. A lumpectomy, however, is a procedure where only the tumor is removed, and typically is performed for earlier-stage cases. Either way, a significant amount of breast tissue is removed and the breast is permanently changed.
Many breast cancer patients choose to receive breast reconstruction surgery as a way to rebuild what was lost. There are several forms of breast reconstruction surgery, which your surgeon will help you learn about and evaluate in order to select the best procedure for you. Learn more about the breast reconstruction procedures we offer here at the Lett Center.
Breast Reconstruction Procedures in Mt. Juliet & Lebanon
To clarify, breast reconstruction is a type of surgical procedure that reconstructs the size or shape of the breast after any type of alteration. So, even if you need to have an implant replaced, you should ask your surgeon about reconstruction. Although, our typical candidates include women who have undergone mastectomy or lumpectomy surgeries.
At The Lett Center, we offer two types of reconstruction surgery: implant-based reconstruction and flap-based reconstruction. In addition to rebuilding the breast’s original size and shape, we can also rebuild the areola with either one of these procedures. Both procedures have their own advantages and disadvantages. So, you will need to talk with your doctor and your surgeon to determine the best surgery for you.
Breast Implant Reconstruction
Tried and true, implant reconstruction is the most common type of reconstruction we perform at The Lett Center. We use both saline-filled implants and silicone gel implants to accomplish the reconstruction.
Saline implants have been used for years and are probably the most reliable and the safest options for implant reconstruction. There are some complications that can come from saline implants, but for the most part, they last for years before a replacement is needed.
If the implant ruptures, the saline solution will be absorbed and expelled naturally by the body.
On the other hand, silicone gel implants, or gummy bear implants, are newer and are typically smoother. They also tend to create a more realistic and smoother look and feel after surgery. The advantage to these implants is that if the casing ruptures, the filling will not leak out, but retain its original shape. Therefore, even if your implant breaks, your breasts will maintain their size and shape until the implant can be replaced.
DIEP and TRAM Flap Reconstruction
Flap-based reconstructions let us actually use the patient’s organic tissue to rebuild the breast. If you can afford it, this option is one of the best procedures out there. Especially for women who just want to have one surgery and not worry about multiple surgeries.
With DIEP flap surgeries we perform a tummy tuck at the same time as breast reconstruction. That way you get the benefit of two surgeries in one procedure. Besides the benefit of a tummy tuck, you’ll also have the most natural results for your breast reconstruction.
A TRAM flap surgery also involves the use of the patient’s natural tissue to build a new breast mound. However, unlike a DIEP flap surgery that only focuses on using fat cells, a TRAM surgery will use fat and muscle tissue to rebuild the breast tissue.
The disadvantage of these procedures is the accompanying downtime. Because you’re basically receiving two surgeries at the same time, your body will need more time and more support in order to heal. Typically, you can expect to spend four to six weeks before resuming your full activity.
When Is The Best Time to Receive Reconstructive Surgery?
We typically offer patients two options when they’re considering the best time to receive reconstructive surgery. The first option is an immediate reconstruction after cancer removal, and the second option is delayed breast reconstruction.
Immediate breast reconstruction is started at the same time as the mastectomy while a delayed breast reconstruction is scheduled for afterward.
Considerations for When to Schedule Your Surgery
Because every patient is different, you should meet with your doctor to determine which option is best for you. A few things to consider may include:
- How well your body responds to surgery
- Your insurance
- How much downtime you’ll need
Other considerations may include the time of year, especially because it’s easier to recover in the winter. Cooler temperatures help with swelling and inflammation, plus sweater weather means you can cover up stitches as they heal before summer.
If you have a history of smoking or other underlying conditions, immediate reconstruction may not be the right option for you. Your body’s healing processes should be as strong as possible when undergoing serious treatments.
Of the two procedures, there are also many different types of breast reconstruction surgery to choose from. This choice should be based on overall health, expectations and what your surgeon may think is best. These types include:
- Tissue flap procedures
- Tissue support
The Benefits of Immediate Reconstruction
However, many of our patients tend to prefer getting all their work done at once.
Overall, it usually means less time in the hospital, less time in recovery, and more time enjoying your results. It also means fewer follow-up appointments down the road. And as much as we love every one of our patients, we understand that your time is valuable.
Some Notes on Recovery Time
The recovery time for a breast reconstruction depends on which type of implant and procedure you choose. Also, your personal health and how your body reacts to the change will be other important factors.
A breast reconstruction is one option for breast cancer survivors.
You should know that reconstruction does not restore the breast’s natural feeling completely. Even if you have areolas reconstructed, they will not have the same sensitivity as before. However, some feeling can return over a period of time to the breasts as a whole. It may take one to two years for tissue to heal. And the scars may begin to fade after a few years, they are for the most part, permanent.
Breast reconstruction also has an emotional factor. The loss of a breast, or both, can be a traumatic life experience for women. Reconstruction can help with the physical change or loss of breasts, but you will need a period of adjustment for them to feel as if they are your own.
But with time and the care of a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Lett, you will feel whole. And, as a result, you can feel more comfortable, more confident, and even more beautiful than before. Your surgeon will discuss this and other surgery information during your consultation.
Visit The Lett Center in Lebanon and Mt Juliet
If you’re considering breast reconstruction surgery, contact Dr. Dwayne Lett of The Lett Center. Schedule your very own consultation, and Dr. Lett will help you find the best options for you.
Find us in Mt. Juliet in the TriStar Medical Plaza off of Mt. Juliet Road and across from Publix. Or, visit our office in Lebanon, Tennessee in the new beautiful building on the intersection of S Hartmann Drive and Franklin Road.
Call 615-443-0901 to make your appointment today.