After a woman undergoes a mastectomy, she may feel dissatisfied with the appearance of her breasts. Breast reconstruction surgery can remedy this. Dr. Chan has several techniques he can perform for optimal results to give a woman back normal-looking breasts with enhanced shape and size. While the procedures differ, in all cases the surgeon will shape and position a breast mound from either a patient’s natural tissue or from an implant. The particular technique that will be chosen is based on the woman’s condition, which the plastic surgeon will thoroughly examine beforehand.
Things to Consider
The surgical planning for a breast reconstruction typically begins at the same time as the planning for the mastectomy. Points to consider include how soon the patient will have the reconstruction and what type of reconstruction technique is best suited for the case. It will need to be decided whether implants or tissue grafts will be used, what type (if any) of nipple and areola reconstruction will be used, and what other techniques that are specific to the patient’s circumstance will need to be employed. The general goal is to help the patient regain a normal appearance of the breasts as part of the final phase of breast cancer treatment.
Breast Reconstruction Reviews
"Dr O’Toole is a pleasure to interact with! My husband recently had some surgery and she totally pit my mind at ease. She is extremely knowledgeable and presents information in a clear manner for the lay person to comprehend. She answered all my concerns and did not leave me hanging with anxiety. My husband and I left the hospital confident we were in good hands. Thank you Dr OToole!!"- D.B. / Facebook / Mar 15, 2021
"Dr. O'toole is AMAZING !! I was in need of a Plastic Surgeon to do reconstruction of my breast during my cancer journey, from my first consultation up until now, she makes you feel like a person,a friend and not just an insurance check. She is passionate about her work , her patients and it shows !..I have a little further to go before this part of my journey ends and I know Dr. O'toole will see me through it using her skill, knowledge and compassion. With Cancer sometimes you don't have a choice, but Dr. O'toole and STARS Plastic Surgery is a choice I would make again !!!!!"- T.C. / Google / Apr 06, 2021
"Dr. O’ Toole is a fabulous and professional doctor who is caring, compassionate, and truly listens. After suffering complications post surgery I went to Dr. O’ Toole and her knowledge/experience on how to handle the situation really showed and helped me. I would highly recommend anyone who wants a doctor that truly cares about their patients, has a positive attitude, and wonderful personality to go to Dr. O’ Toole. She is truly a blessing."- C.M. / Google / Sep 10, 2021
"Dr. O’ Toole is a fabulous and professional doctor who is caring, compassionate, and truly listens. After suffering complications post surgery I went to Dr. O’ Toole and her knowledge/experience on how to handle the situation really showed and helped me. I would highly recommend anyone who wants a doctor that truly cares about their patients, has a positive attitude, and wonderful personality to go to Dr. O’ Toole. She is truly a blessing."- C.M. / Facebook / Sep 09, 2021
"Dr. Chan is an amazing doctor. I first met him 9 yrs ago when I had breast cancer in left breast that required a mastectomy. He was working in the burn unit at BAMC at that time. At every appt, he answered every question I had (and I had a lot), never rushing me, always explaining everything every clearly. Professional, caring, compassionate, with a great bedside manner at the hospital. He did a tram-flap reconstruction and it went smoothly and w/o issues. Follow up was regular and always with the greatest concern for me. I found Dr. Chan again in July of this year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my rt breast. He did a needle expansion reconstruction this time. Again, no problems, follow up was like clockwork. He's at STARS now and the staff there are amazing. I couldn't offer a higher recommendation for Dr. Chan and STARS. If I ever need any type of plastic surgery in the future, he's the only doctor I will see."- K. / Healthgrades / Nov 25, 2021
Surgical techniques vary and today, patients are getting more options that can match their personal preferences. It is important to find a highly specialized plastic surgeon to perform breast reconstruction and one who will work with the cancer surgeon to achieve a natural result.
Reconstruction With Implants
Breast implants are a common method used with a reconstruction procedure. When implants are being considered, the reconstruction process is usually performed in a multi-stage treatment session. A tissue expander is placed in between the chest muscle and the skin during the mastectomy. This expander will be gradually filled with a saline solution to expand the skin and eventually replace it with an implant. Sometimes, the saline-filled expander is retained instead of an implant.
Flap procedures harvest skin and muscle tissue from donor sites and transfer it to the breast. The surgeon may choose between one of the following common techniques:
- TRAM flap involves grafting skin and muscle tissues on the lower part of the abdomen.
- DIEP and SIEA flap graft tissue from the lower part of the abdomen, but harvests only the skin and fat tissues instead of muscles.
- Latissimus Dorsi flap uses skin and muscle tissues from the upper back.
- GAP flap uses skin, fat and muscle tissues from the buttocks area.
- TUG flap harvests skin, fat and muscle tissues from the inner thighs near the buttocks area.
When a breast is surgically removed, the nipple and areola are not spared. To recreate this area, skin and muscle tissues are grafted and formed to look like a nipple, while the areola is achieved by tattooing. This is done when the breast reconstruction has fully healed.
Breast reconstruction uses general anesthesia, and the patient is often required to stay in a hospital if done simultaneously with the mastectomy. Patients who have flap surgeries sometimes stay up to 5 days for monitoring. There will be discomfort and pain within the first week, and the patient may feel disoriented with the newly formed chest. Temporary drain tubes and bandages are placed to assist in healing. It can be unnerving to go through a major body change; however, patients find it gratifying and relieving that they are able to once again look and feel normal as they start their new journey towards becoming a cancer survivor.
Plan Your Procedure
- Procedure Recovery Location
Breast Reconstruction FAQs
With breast reconstruction, a plastic surgeon will work alongside the cancer surgeon and be primarily involved and responsible as it pertains to restoring the appearance. It is a highly specialized surgery so it is critical to choose a plastic surgeon that has years of successful experiences in this type of surgery.
If a patient knows she will want to restore her breasts with a reconstruction procedure, it is recommended that this process begins at the same time as the mastectomy. During the breast removal portion, the tissue expanders can be put into place, which eliminates the need for a new surgery. This ultimately decreases the risk for complications.
Because the breast is completely removed and a new one is formed, there will be a loss of sensation. Over time, there is a possibility that this sensation can be slowly regained. This is different for every patient. While some patients regain their sensitivity, there is no guarantee that this will be the case for everyone.