Breast reconstruction restores symmetry and form to give you the confidence to pursue life
Multi-staged surgery to help rebuild your body and your life
Breast reconstruction has evolved over the decades to become a complex, multifaceted program of care; it takes time and usually involves more than one procedure. If you are facing breast reconstruction, you may have already lost one or both of your breasts to cancer or are considering mastectomy for existing cancer. On the other hand, you may be considering mastectomy to counter the risk of developing breast cancer in the future.
Breast cancer-related decisions are complicated and are often made in the presence of a multidisciplinary panel of specialists. This team would traditionally include breast surgeons, oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, clinical geneticists and plastic surgeons. First and foremost the breast cancer treatment must be a priority. The reconstruction program must be integrated into the breast cancer treatment without compromising the outcome.
Breast reconstruction is often a multi-staged surgery that embodies the essence of plastic and reconstructive surgery; the reconstruction program is designed to lift and enrich the soul. The benefits of breast reconstruction, unquestionably, reach beyond the simple form and symmetry. Breast reconstruction patients feel “whole” again and can pursue life with confidence; it restores a positive life focus away from the breast cancer or mastectomy that can throw their lives into turmoil and question. Breast reconstruction can help to rebuild your body and your life.
The surgeons at Waverley House in Adelaide are specialist breast reconstructive surgeons. They are familiar with all the techniques available and are ready to have a discussion with you about your options.
Breast Reconstruction FAQs – What You Should Know
What type of breast reconstruction do I need?
You may be considering an implant-based reconstruction, a latissimus dorsi muscle flap or an abdominal flap such as a TRAM or DIEP flap breast reconstruction. It is very difficult to summarise the benefits and limitations of these options out of context. It is often stated that in breast reconstruction, you don’t choose the type of reconstruction that you will have. The reconstruction best suited to you often becomes obvious after consulting with one of our surgeons who will review your individual details and examine you. Our breast reconstruction surgeons will gladly take the time to explore your options with you and explain the process.
TRAM and DIEP flap breast reconstructions can be long and involve delicate microsurgery towards the end of the procedure. Having done these procedures together many times before, our surgeons have developed a familiar and efficient process that minimises the duration of the surgery. While speed is not the goal, the duration of the surgery can certainly affect other aspects of your recovery.
Is breast reconstruction a must?
Absolutely not. Many patients make the decision to not undergo reconstructive surgery following cancer. Wearing artificial breasts is a preferred option for some patients. Either way, surgery or artificial breasts will ensure your clothes fit better and will reduce that lopsided feeling that occurs after a mastectomy. While living cancer-free is the ultimate goal, many women find that retaining their femininity improves their quality of life too.
When should I schedule my breast reconstruction surgery at Waverley House?
Breast reconstruction can either be performed at the same time as your mastectomy or several months or years later – it’s all about personal preference. Depending on your body as well as your physical and emotional health, your surgeon will help you decide on the best option. If you do decide on immediate breast reconstruction, you will wake up with new breasts directly after your surgery and it eliminates having to undergo a second surgery later on. With that being said, some patients find that the strain of undergoing two surgeries is too much and they prefer to deal with the emotions that come with being cancer-free first.
How long will my breast reconstruction surgery take?
The duration of the entire breast reconstruction process varies between patients. This is because cancer treatments and the number of surgeries that have been done need to be taken into consideration. Surgery can only be performed once no further cancer treatments are required. In terms of the duration of the actual surgery, this will also depend on what you want to achieve during surgery. For one, some patients choose to have their nipples reconstructed, while others don’t. Some want implants, while others don’t. The average surgery can take anywhere from one to six hours – your Waverley House surgeon will advise you during your consultation in Adelaide.
What can I expect in terms of recovery time following breast reconstruction?
Again, this is dependent on what was done during your surgery as well as your body’s natural healing abilities. Most patients will need to spend several days in hospital after their surgery and wear drains for up to three weeks. Typically, patients can expect to return to their normal routine three to six weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will tell you exactly what to expect based on your specific needs.
Is there a chance my natural breast won’t match my reconstructed breast?
Our goal is to create a breast that looks natural and is symmetrical and while the results won’t be perfect, we aim to get as close to identical as possible. If this is one of your concerns, you may want to consider the option of implants as this will increase your chance of achieving a more symmetrical result. Along with implants, there is also a balancing procedure that can be performed several months after your first surgery should you not be happy with your results. You can discuss this concern with your surgeon during your consultation so that you can review all of your options before you make a final decision.
Will it be harder to detect breast cancer following reconstruction surgery?
The chances of breast cancer returning will depend on biology and the stage of the disease. There is no evidence that reconstructive surgery increases the risk of cancer recurrence or that it makes it more difficult to detect cancer. Cancer can still be detected in patients with implants. The method that is used to scan the breasts is slightly different but still produces the same results.
Schedule a consultation to discuss your reconstruction options.
At Waverley House, your breast augmentation will be automatically registered with the Australian Breast Device Registry (ABDR). The ABDR collect objective data in a field that has been historically unregulated and difficult to monitor. This initiative will improve the quality and safety of breast surgery. Dr Cooter was one of the founders of the ABDR.