(866) 447-9990 (toll-free)
Breast reconstruction is one of many cosmetic and plastic surgery options offered by expert physicians at UW Health Transformations in Madison, Wisconsin. Breast reconstruction is often performed after a patient has experienced cancer or another disease, causing a necessary mastectomy.
Our experienced physicians at UW Health Transformations are able to reconstruct natural-looking breasts that match your body shape and desire.
Our surgeons typically use one of two common procedures - skin expansion or flap reconstruction - for this breast procedure. Depending on the procedure and individual, patients often visit their physicians following the breast reconstruction surgery to make sure every part of the reconstructed breast matches their desired results.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I talk to my doctor about breast reconstruction?
Most women who lose a breast to treat cancer can have it rebuilt through reconstructive surgery. Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that the restores appearance of a woman's breast. It can be performed at the time that a breast is removed or anytime afterwards.
The best candidates for immediate breast reconstruction (surgery done at the same time as mastectomy) are women whose cancer seems to have been eliminated by mastectomy. Other women may be advised by their doctors to wait on breast reconstruction surgery or undergo delayed breast reconstruction (surgery done at a later time), depending on their overall health, stage of your breast cancer, and amount of skin tissue available for reconstruction.
What does breast reconstruction involve?
Breast reconstruction surgeons typically use one of two common procedures - skin expansion or flap reconstruction - for this breast procedure. Skin expansion involves expansion of breast skin and insertion of an implant. Following mastectomy, your surgeon inserts a balloon expander beneath the skin and chest muscle and gradually fills it with saline over several weeks. After skin over the breast area has stretched enough, the expander is removed and a second operation is done to insert a permanent implant.
During the flap reconstruction procedure, tissue is taken from the back, abdomen or buttocks and placed on the front of the chest wall. This tissue may be enough to reconstruct a breast or a breast implant may be added.
How real do reconstructed breasts look and feel?
A reconstructed breast may feel firmer and look rounder or flatter than the natural breast. It may not have the same contour as your breast before mastectomy or exactly match your opposite breast. But these differences will only be apparent to you. For most reconstruction patients, breasts are so close in size that you will feel comfortable in any type of clothing.
Although breast reconstruction restores the shape of the breasts, it cannot completely restore breast sensation. But over time, some feeling may return.
What should I expect following breast reconstruction?
You may experience soreness and fatigue for up to two months after breast reconstruction. Most discomfort can be controlled by doctor-prescribed medication. You surgeon may also discharge you with a surgical drain that helps to remove excess fluids from the site after operation. Drains are typically removed within one to two weeks after breast reconstruction surgery, and stitches are removed between one week and 10 days.
As a general rule, you should avoid strenuous activity, stretching, overhead lifting and sexual activity for three to six weeks following breast reconstruction. You should be up and about within four to eight weeks. Recovery for implant reconstruction is typically shorter than for flap reconstruction. Scarring will fade substantially over time (between one and two years) but they will never go away entirely.
Your breast reconstruction process may require additional surgery, such as nipple reconstruction, depending upon what type of procedure you and your doctor agree is appropriate for you.