Your Breasts, Your Choice
Breast reconstruction is a critical part of a woman’s recovery and healing after mastectomy, and today, the plastic surgery options are better than ever before. In addition to the traditional surgery involving implants, doctors can now use a woman’s own body tissue to reconstruct her breasts. The New York Center for the Advancement of Breast Reconstruction specializes in the latest and most advanced autologous or “perforator flap” reconstruction, which uses extra tissue—skin and fat—from another place on your body to form a breast shape. Natural breast tissue reconstruction technique is superior to implant breast reconstruction because:
- It usually lasts a lifetime
- Implants normally have to be replaced after 10 or 20 years
- Tissue from your belly, buttocks, and upper thighs is very similar to breast tissue, and will make a good substitute. The new breast can feel quite natural and will match the skin color allowing for better cosmetic results.
- Underlying muscle is preserved
- Since donor tissue is taken from another location on the body, the source area usually improves in appearance (i.e. patients can look like they’ve had a tummy tuck, thigh or butt lift)
If a woman chooses to have natural breast tissue reconstruction, the procedure can be done at the same time as her mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or after a mastectomy and other treatments (delayed reconstruction). Some patients choose autologous reconstruction to replace implants that have ruptured or become otherwise unsafe. Over the years several variations on flap reconstruction have been developed and they have slightly different names depending on where the flap comes from.
- DIEP Flap (Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator)
- SGAP and IGAP Flap (Superior and Inferior Gluteal Artery Perforator)
- TUG Flap (Inner Thigh or Transverse Upper Gracillis)
- PAP Flap (Profunda Artery Perforator)
- TRAM Flap (Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous)
Because this type of reconstructive surgery takes longer to perform and involves two surgical sites (the chest as well as the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs), it requires a longer hospital stay (typically 5 days). After clearance from the hospital, most women feel tired and sore but a doctor can prescribe medications to help ease the pain. The bruising and swelling may take up to 8 weeks to go away, but patients can usually return to work and normal activities after 4-8 weeks. If a woman chooses to have nipple reconstruction, that procedure is performed at a later date. Scars will fade and improve over time.