BREAST RECONSTRUCTION

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Approximately 1/8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course their lifetime.  For many, breast cancer treatment can be physically, emotional, and psychological stressful, only to be exacerbated by feelings of loss of femininity and self-confidence from partial or complete removal of the breasts (mastectomy).


Fortunately, there are now many different options to rebuild or restore your breasts.  Either implants or your own tissues (typically from your abdomen or back) can be used to create a breast after a mastectomy or your remaining breasts can be aesthetically reshaped after a lumpectomy (“oncoplastic reduction”).  Surgeries are usually coordinated with your breast surgeon as part of a multidisciplinary team effort, and your breast reconstruction journey may be broken down into multiple stages/surgeries to optimize safety and aesthetic outcomes.  Your specific circumstances and preferences will be discussed at your consultation to determine the reconstructive option most suitable for you.

KEY POINTS

SURGERY UNDER GENERAL ANESTHETIC

PATIENTS USUALLY STAY IN HOSPITAL FOR A BRIEF PERIOD AFTER SURGERY

RETURN TO NORMAL ACTIVITIES IN 3-4 WEEKS

USUALLY A 6-MONTH PROCESS FROM START TO FINISH

REBUILD BREAST TISSUE REMOVED FROM YOUR MASTECTOMY

REGAIN YOUR SENSE OF FEMINITY AND BODY SHAPE

ACHIEVE BETTER SYMMETRY BETWEEN YOUR BREASTS

SURGERIES ARE COORDINATED WITH YOUR BREAST CANCER CARE

WHAT TO EXPECT BEFORE SURGERY

  • You will be evaluated by Dr. Li at the time of your initial consultation to determine which method of breast reconstruction is best for you

  • You will be required to quit smoking and oral contraceptives 4 weeks before surgery

  • You will need to complete testing before surgery, which may include a physical with your PCP/primary physician, blood work, and an ECG

  • Prescriptions for your surgery will be sent to your local pharmacy, please obtain these medications ahead of time and bring them to your surgery

  • All surgeries related to your breast reconstruction are covered by insurance but may require pre-authorization

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER SURGERY

  • General anesthesia can sometimes cause generalized body soreness and fatigue for a couple of days

  • Maximum discomfort will occur in the first few days after surgery and gradually improve

  • After your mastectomy, you will be admitted into the hospital for a few days for observation

  • You will not be allowed to lift more than 10lbs for 4 weeks as a safety precaution

  • You will be provided a compression garment to wear; it is recommended that you wear this for 6 weeks to help shape your breasts and minimize swelling

  • You may have drains after surgery and you will be given instructions on how to care of them

  • You may experience temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, or a burning sensation involving your breasts and over areas you had liposuction; bruising and swelling takes several weeks to improve; numbness takes a couple months to normalize

  • Scars may be red and firm for approximately 6 months before they soften and fade