Losing a breast through breast cancer surgery is an incredibly heart-wrenching and emotional time for you and your family. At the time, it can feel as if your options are limited however the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Cosmetic surgery is a simple way to help reconstruct your breast, ensuring that you maintain your sense of identity and feelings of femininity too.

There are a number of plastic surgery techniques available which can rebuild your breast after the loss of glandular tissue from breast cancer surgery. The options for your reconstruction depend on whether a part of the glandular tissue was removed via a lumpectomy or whether the entire breast was taken away during a mastectomy. Other factors that will need to be considered include the amount of skin in the area (as a skin-sparing mastectomy can be suitable in some cases) as well as your general fitness and preferences for surgery.

Breast reconstruction usually requires a series of procedures to produce the optimal cosmetic results for you. These stages traditionally involve:

  1. Forming a breast mound using a flap of tissue moved from another part of the body, an implant or a combination of both
  2. Creating symmetry with the normal breast and reconstructing a nipple
  3. Any final adjustments and tweaks

Treatment Option One: Implant or Expander

Patients with smaller breasts or those who prefer a simpler reconstructive procedure can achieve a good result just by using an implant or tissue expander. The implant or expander would be placed under the pectoral muscles in the chest wall. On the whole, the operation and recovery times for this procedure are a lot shorter than other forms of reconstructive surgery.

Treatment Option Two: Latissimus Dorsi Flap

This option creates a more natural result if you normally have medium to large breasts. For this procedure, a latissimus dorsi flap – made using muscle, fat and skin from your back – is combined with an implant to create the shape of your new breast. Usefully, this operation has a shorter surgery time and recovery period than free flap style procedures.

Treatment Option Three: TRAM/DIEP Free Flap

Avoiding the use of implants entirely, this procedure utilises abdominal skin and fat to form a free flap to create your new breast. This technique gives your breast the most natural feel in comparison with the other methods, although it does have a longer operative and recovery timescale.

Using microsurgical transfer techniques, spare lower abdominal tissue is transferred from the lower abdomen to the chest and then sculpted to form a new breast on your chest wall. The site on your stomach where the donor tissue was extracted from is closed in the same way as an abdominoplasty procedure.

What about finishing touches, such as my nipples?

Nipple reconstruction is usually performed at least three months after your initial reconstructive procedure. Your new nipple will be created using a small flap of skin from the surface of your reconstructed breast. Your new areola is done by tattooing the surrounding area.

Also at this three-month mark, we can perform surgery to lift the normal breast to match your reconstructed side, and we can also check size and shape too to ensure we have as symmetrical a finish as possible for you.

Implant/Expander Latissimus Dorsi Flap TRAM/DIEP Free Flap
Suitable for… Smaller breasts Medium/large breasts All breast sizes
Recovery time? Short Medium Long
Uses an implant? Yes Yes No

Do you have any more questions? Would you like to book a consultation? Get in touch with us today by calling 020 7118 6887.


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