Breast Reconstruction

Overview

Breast reconstruction is an increasingly common surgical procedure for women who have had a mastectomy. The procedure can create a breast that resembles a natural breast in appearance and form. Breast reconstruction is a physically and emotionally rewarding procedure for a woman who has lost a breast due to cancer or other condition

 

Features

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that rebuilds a new breast or breasts to resemble a natural breast in appearance and form. Breast reconstruction is usually performed immediately after, or sometime after a mastectomy.

 

Procedure

There are two main types of breast reconstruction: implant reconstruction and flap reconstruction. In implant reconstruction, an implant is placed under the skin and muscle to recreate the shape of the breast. In flap reconstruction, skin, fat and muscle are taken from elsewhere on the body to make the new breast. The procedure best for you will depend on your age, general health, size and shape of the other breast, and available body tissue.

 

Notification

Some general complications and risks associated with surgery may include:

  • Heavy bleeding from an operated site
  • Fluid accumulation around the operation site(s)
  • Infection that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases
  • Allergic reaction to sutures, dressings or antiseptic solutions
  • The formation of a large blood clot (haematoma) beneath an incision site may require further surgery
  • Complications such as heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke may be caused by a blood clot, which can be life threatening
  • Pain, bruising and swelling around the operated site(s)
  • Slow healing, often related to smoking or diabetes
  • Short-term nausea following general anaesthesia and other risks related to anaesthesia

Some possible complications and risks associated with breast reconstruction surgery using implants may include:

  • Infection around the implant
  • Capsular contracture, where firm scar tissue forms around the implant causing it to lose shape and softness
  • Implant rupture or deflation
  • Leakage of the implant’s contents (silicone gel or saline)
  • Asymmetry (unevenness) of the breasts
  • Calcium deposits in the scar capsule around the implant
  • Granulomas, or lumps in local lymph node tissue formed by leaking silicone
  • Movement of the implants from their original position
  • Further surgery to treat complications

Some possible complications and risks associated with breast reconstruction surgery using flap reconstruction may include:

  • Loss of blood circulation to the reconstructed breast due to clotting in the rejoined blood vessels. This can result in flap tissue dying (necrosis)
  • Small areas of hardness (fat necrosis) may develop in the new breast
  • Fluid collection (seroma) at the flap site
  • Weakened abdominal muscle, which can result in a hernia
  • Difference in size and shape (asymmetry) between the natural and reconstructed breasts
  • Temporary loss of full movement of the arm on the side of the reconstructed breast

 

Estimated Cost

Costs associated with the procedure may include:

  • Surgeon’s fee
  • Hospital or surgical facility costs
  • Anaesthesia fees
  • Prescriptions for medication
  • Post-surgery garments
  • Medical tests