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Breast reconstruction is to reform or reshape the breast(s) after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. A mastectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the entire breast, usually including the nipple and areola, in order to treat or prevent breast cancer. A lumpectomy is the removal of a piece of the breast where there is a smaller tumor. This reconstruction process can help a woman find her self-confidence again and feel better during her cancer recovery.
While many factors determine what kind of breast reconstruction surgery would best suit an individual, there are two main types of breast reconstruction surgery:
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The procedure for both these methods differs from each other. Both begin with anesthetizing the patient so that she may not suffer from pain and discomfort during the surgery. After this, the procedures go as follows:
Following these surgeries, other procedures can be carried out to reconstruct a nipple. Nipple prosthesis is used to restore the normal physical appearance of your breasts.
The actual procedure and time needed in the operation theatre differ for the two types of breast reconstructive surgeries mentioned above, with the breast implant procedure taking less time as compared to flap reconstruction. One or two days of stay is needed in the hospital after tissue expander surgery. While flap reconstruction is more like two or three days stay at the hospital. Follow-ups are needed for both of these. You should stay in Belfast for at least 14 days after the surgery. During this period, your health condition is monitored, stitches and drainage tubes are removed and you can go home when allowed by your physician.
Your period of recovery depends upon the type of reconstructive surgery you have. A couple of weeks are needed by most of the women to recover. There are swelling and soreness around the site in the first week. This continues to reduce and ultimately, after 8 weeks you should start to see signs of a full recovery. Medicines are given to relieve pain and discomfort. You will need to take 2-3 weeks off work. On average, 3-4 weeks are needed to recover from tissue expander surgery and 4-6 weeks for flap reconstructive surgery. Wear surgical bras to support your reconstructed breasts while you are recovering. Regular activities can be restarted after 2 months. Almost 1-2 years are required to get the proper shape and for the scars to fade away.
Breast reconstruction surgery has a high success rate, with complications usually only occurring in case of infection or a blood clot formation. According to a study by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the success rate is found to be 98% in case of flap reconstruction surgery. While for tissue expander surgery has a success rate within the region of 94-96%. Owing to its tremendous success rate, the percentage of women going through the surgery is increasing day by day.
The following points should be considered post-operation:
Surgery should never be the first option. Other options should always be considered before opting for it. Following are some alternatives to breast reconstruction surgery:
Before going through the reconstructive surgery, a mastectomy has left your chest flat. This surgery restores your normal bust and aesthetic appearance.
Success rates are extremely high with the modern advances in technology and the techniques used by surgeons.
Patient reviews often refer to be being pleased with the level of professionalism and emotional support throughout the entire process leading up to and following the surgery. Often the increase in self-confidence is considered the biggest positive from the procedure. Before and after photos are available online with patient comments.
For an in-depth analysis of the Tissue Expander process, watch this short video.
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