Myths About Breast Reconstruction After Breast Cancer | Garza Plastic Surgery
Mastectomy is a surgery that removes all breast tissue in order to treat breast cancer. It has proven quite effective. However, the main cost of this procedure for women is losing their breasts depending on their cancer case.
Many women seek breast reconstruction surgery after getting a mastectomy as a way to reclaim their confidence and womanhood after surviving breast cancer. But as with anything, there are questions and myths about getting breast reconstruction surgery that can persist. We’re hoping to clear some of those up.
Myth #1: All Breast Reconstructions Are The Same
Most people hear about breast surgery and think of breast implants as the only option for reconstruction. They’re not. Skilled plastic surgeons like Dr. Robert Garza, in Nashville, TN offer DIEP flap surgery that uses your body’s own tissue to reconstruct the breast.
Even when it comes to implants there are different types that may be better suited to you depending on your current condition.
What Types of Breast Implants Are There?
The most popular breast implant is a silicone gel implant also called a gummy bear breast implant due to its texture. The compound inside the implant retains its shape even if the outer shell is broken. In contrast, older silicone implant compounds are stickier and do not retain their shape as effectively.
Similar to a silicone gel implant, these are shaped implant devices filled with a sterile saline solution. If the implant leaks, the body absorbs and releases the saltwater solution naturally. These are also popular options for breast reconstruction patients.
Finally, at Garza Plastic Surgery, we offer smooth implants. These implants offer more natural movement and shape. However, smooth implants can sometimes ripple under the skin, leading to small visual or palpable changes. Smooth implants are not as popular as silicone gel implants and saline implants.
All of these implants are designed so your body will accept them easily. There are also no links between the implants we use and diseases or cancers.
Keep in mind that while reconstructive surgery can help you retain breast structure, it will change how your breast feels. This is because there is no way to regrow the lost tissue. This is why we use implants to replace the shape of the removed tissue.
Tissue-Based Breast Implants
Deep inferior epigastric perforator flap surgery (DIEP) is a procedure that takes skin, fat, blood vessels, and some muscle tissue from your abdomen and uses it to reconstruct a breast or breasts that were removed during a mastectomy.
Traverse rectus abdominal muscle flap reconstruction surgery also takes tissue from your lower abdomen like DIEP flap surgery. However, unlike DIEP flap surgery, TRAM flap surgery is a non-muscle sparing procedure. What this means is that this procedure takes muscle and fat tissue as well as blood vessels taken from the lower abdomen to reconstruct the breasts.
#2 Diep Flap Surgery Is The Same As A Tummy Tuck
Even though DIEP flap surgery takes tissue from the same area as a tummy tuck, and removes the same kinds of tissue, the results will not be the same as a tummy tuck. The reason for this is that a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a specifically designed surgery that targets fat loss in the abdominal region.
Tummy tucks also involve the strengthening of the abdominal muscles and restretching and tightening of the skin. Flap surgery makes an incision in the lower abdomen, but the surgeries do not involve strengthening the abdominal muscles.
So, while you may see some volume loss as part of getting a DIEP or TRAM flap breast reconstruction, they give you the same results as a full tummy tuck.
#3 Breasts Won’t Look Natural After Implant Reconstruction
Not true. All breast reconstruction surgery is meant to create a realistic look and feel in the reconstructed breasts. And Dr. Garza as a board-certified plastic surgery specialist is specifically trained in complex breast reconstruction techniques that produce natural-looking and natural feeling results.
One way this is accomplished is by nipple-sparing techniques. Your surgeon will spare as much tissue as possible to help reconstruct a realistic-looking breast. If the areola cannot be spared, then your surgeon can create a new areola from other tissue and tattooing on a new areola.
#4 Breast Reconstruction Surgery Is One and Done
Unfortunately, breast implants have a limited lifespan. Usually, they will last anywhere from 10-15 years before they need to be replaced. However, if you get tissue-based reconstruction then the reconstructions will age with you and you won’t have to worry about getting a replacement surgery.
Also, if you don’t like the way your breasts look after your reconstruction surgery, you can always schedule an implant revision surgery.
You may also need additional surgery if your implants rupture, or in the event of other complications.
#5 Insurance Won’t Cover My Surgery
Thankfully, most insurances will cover the cost of breast reconstruction surgery, especially when performed after a mastectomy.
#6 You Have To Wait To Get Reconstruction Surgery
You don’t have to wait to recover from a mastectomy before getting breast reconstruction surgery. If your health permits, you can get all of your operations done at once. Talk to your care team to figure out if getting immediate breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy is an option for you.
#7 Breast Cancer Will Be Harder To Detect In Reconstructed Breasts
Currently, there is no scientific evidence that suggests that breast cancer is harder to detect in reconstructed breasts.
Of course, when you go in for another breast cancer screening, you should disclose that you have had breast reconstruction surgery so the screening techniques can be adjusted.
Are Breast Implants Safe After A Mastectomy?
Breast implants are usually made of silicone and can be filled with silicone gel or saline fluid. These implants are designed to be harmless and safe for your body.
Are Breast Implants Safe?
The biggest question and concern that people have is, “do breast implants cause cancer?”
Most types of breast implants do not. Only Allergan-textured breast implants were linked to a rare form of thyroid cancer. Nor were they linked to cases of breast cancer.
These implants have been outdated for some time and were recently recalled by the FDA. We do not use this type of breast implant at Garza Plastic Surgery.
What Side Effects Are There To Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
While there are risks and potential side effects of breast reconstruction surgery, each implant we use is designed to be safe. For instance, the compound inside of a gummy bear breast implant will retain its shape, even if its shell ruptures.
If a saline implant ever leaked, the saltwater inside the implant would be absorbed and released by the body. Smooth implants may ripple under the skin but would do no harm.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that an implant will last forever. As time passes, the chance that an implant will fail increases. If this happens, additional reconstructive surgery may be required.
What Are The Risks Of Breast Implants?
As with any surgery, there are some risks and side effects associated with immediate breast reconstruction. Some risks are higher for certain types of reconstructive surgery.
In terms of the reconstructive surgery we offer, side effects include the following:
- Trouble healing
- Muscle Weakness
- Changes to breast shape
- Minor nerve damage
Occasionally, a lump may form around the surgery site. This is caused by clear natural fluid gathering in the breast.
Because mastectomy and breast reconstruction is an invasive process, your treatment plan should include regular screenings. As you visit your doctor after your operation, they will be able to identify and diagnose any side effects or complications.
What Does Recovery From Reconstruction Surgery Look Like?
Recovery time from breast reconstruction surgery ranges from a few days to several weeks. Your breasts will be wrapped directly after your operation. You will be required to keep your breasts supported with wraps or supportive garments during your recovery. You may be given medication to help you prevent pain or infection after the procedure.
For the first few days after your operation, avoid heavy lifting and reduce activity. This allows the incisions to heal properly and reduces the risk of bleeding.
Smoking will increase the risk of some side effects and may increase your recovery time. Doing gentle exercise will help prevent muscle weakness and soreness.
Consult a Nashville Breast Reconstruction Surgeon
If you have any questions about reconstructive surgery, visit Garza Plastic Surgery in Nashville. We offer consultations, and our doctors are eager to help you find the right treatment for you. Call us today at (615) 620-7800.