Breast Reconstruction in Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Lohner sees patients from Bryn Mawr, Main Line, Rosemont, Philadelphia, and other cities throughout Pennsylvania for breast reconstruction surgery.

Breast Reconstruction Before Tissue Expander

Considering Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is the process of recreating a breast using the patient’s own tissue and/or prosthesis (breast implant). Usually performed on women after a mastectomy, breast reconstruction can help a patient recover and regain a positive self-image after suffering through a disease such as cancer. Breast reconstruction aims to rebuild a breast that appears as natural as possible, including the nipple and areolar area. Often the first steps of this procedure can be performed immediately subsequent to a mastectomy operation.

Types of Breast Reconstruction

There are two widely used methods for reconstructing a breast: implant-based reconstruction and flap-based reconstruction. Using implants to restore lost volume is less complex and may allow for a faster recovery. Both methods require a separate operation after the breast mound is rebuilt to reconstruct the nipple and areola.

Breast Reconstruction After Flap Surgery

The transported tissue forms a flap for a breast implant, or it may provide enough bulk to form the breast mound without an implant.

When a patient elects implant-based reconstruction, a tissue expander is placed where the future implant will be inserted, either right after a mastectomy or later. This expander is gradually inflated with saline over a period of several weeks in order to stretch the skin enough to accommodate a permanent implant. When the targeted expansion is complete, a surgeon removes the tissue expander and places the implant device.

Flap-based reconstruction uses a flap of the patient’s own skin and muscle tissue that is donated from another site on the body. This flap is sometimes left connected to its original blood supply and “tunneled” through the body to the breast area; the other option is to reattach blood vessels in the donor flap to vessels in the transplant site using microsurgery. A TRAM-flap operation uses a flap harvested from the abdominal area. Tissue flaps are also taken from the back, buttocks, or thigh, depending on the procedure and size of reconstructed breasts desired.

The entire process of reconstruction can take a number of surgeries spread out over months. If only one breast is being reconstructed, a patient may choose to have an augmentation, reduction, or a breast lift performed on the other breast to more accurately match the newly constructed breast.

Breast Reconstruction Risks and Complications

Breast reconstruction presents several unique risks, aside from the risks involved in all major surgeries such as infection and reaction to anesthesia. Removal of tissue from the abdominal area during a TRAM-flap procedure can permanently weaken abdominal strength, for example. And using implants introduces the same set of risks and complications as breast augmentation procedures, including an increased chance of capsular contracture. Nipple reconstruction often results in a significant loss of sensation. You should address the risks inherent in the particular process you select in detail with your surgeon.

Breast Reconstruction Recovery

Breast Reconstruction After Surgery

Scars at the breast, nipple, and abdomen will fade substantially with time, but may never disappear entirely.

Recovery time and activities allowed will vary greatly due to the number and timeline of operations required. The initial reconstruction procedure, creating the breast mound, usually takes three to six weeks of limited activity. Nipple reconstruction is less invasive, and recovery should be shorter and less restrictive.

Dr. Lohner sees patients from Bryn Mawr, Main Line, Rosemont, Philadelphia, and other cities throughout Pennsylvania for breast reconstruction surgery.