There are many factors to be considered when determining the best breast reconstruction technique(s) to use in order to obtain the best results. You have to discuss with your consultant to decide the technique that will work best for your particular circumstances. Your desired outcome, physical composition and health are the main factors that influence the decision. The factors comprise;
- Your cancer therapy history and details.
- The remaining quantity of post-mastectomy natural tissue.
- Do you desire breast implants or not.
- Your current weight, general well-being and medical history.
- The surgery timeline (whether or not to be combined with mastectomy).
- Your current breast size and the post surgery look you desire.
The technique that will finally be selected will be the safest one which offers a natural, symmetrical and beautiful outcome. There are basically two types of breast reconstruction techniques. One is undertaken with breast implants and the other without them.
Implant/Tissue Expander Technique
The tissue expander technique is very prevalent and involves two steps. The first step is the placement of a temporary implant for some weeks or months after mastectomy. This is so it can slowly extend your chest muscles and skin to create the space permanent implants will later occupy. A sterile saline injection is periodically injected into the temporary implants to expand them. Once enough room has been created then it is time for the second step.
The second step is the replacement of the temporary expanders with permanent implants once enough room has been created. Options of permanent expanders and different types of implants also exist. The choice will have to be over-viewed during your consultation with your surgeon.
Flap (devoid of implants) Technique
This technique involves taken tissue from other parts of your body like the buttocks, thighs, abdomen or back. The tissue is then utilized for reconstructing the mound of your breast. The technique has different procedure options. The option that will be most effective for you will depend on your aesthetic preferences as well as your particular physical and medical circumstances. The options comprise;
- TRAM Flap: This technique builds your breast mound using fatty tissue, muscle and skin from your lower abdomen. The muscle is directed upwards into your chest area while still left attached to its original channel for blood supply. This is done through a tiny incision on your lower abdomen. The skin that was taken out is then attached onto your breast to complete the procedure. This option offers the benefit of a smoother and firmer tummy in addition to a benefit of no-implant-used breast symmetry.
- DIEP Flap: This technique is similar to the Tram but does not take any muscle away. The technique employs vascular micro-surgery to give grafted tissues the needed blood supply. It harvests tissue together with its blood vessels. The vessels are then carefully attached to those on your chest in the process of grafting. The connection prevents the grafted skin from dying off. Normally, this technique offers the same benefits as the TRAM technique with one extra. The extra benefit is that it does not interfere at all with the muscles of your stomach.
- Latissimus Dorsi Technique: This former standard technique uses muscles and skin from your latissimus dorsi. It recreates your breast by bringing them to your chest. To improve results, the technique is sometimes combined with the use of implants. Although there is a decline in the number of patients that currently choose this technique, it takes the most minimum time and is the less complex of the three.
You must see your consultant for a full break down of all available options. This will enable you to discover which of the best breast reconstruction techniques will give you the best possible results.