Women undergoing cancer treatment may be candidates for either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. Both procedures can be equally effective at treating breast cancer. However, it’s important for patients to understand their different breast reconstruction options after each.
A lumpectomy removes the cancerous tumor from the breast(s) while preserving as much natural breast tissue as possible. A common misconception I often hear from my patients is that a lumpectomy inevitably leaves the affected breast(s) misshapen or indented.
At my practice, I specialize in oncoplastic surgery, an approach to reconstruction simultaneous with a lumpectomy that combines expert oncological care with a concern for the final cosmetic appearance. By reshaping the natural breast tissue after the tumor has been removed, I can create a beautiful final result without needing breast implants.
Reconstruction after a Mastectomy
A mastectomy removes most if not all of the existing breast tissue, although in some cases a nipple-sparing mastectomy may be performed. Patients undergoing a mastectomy have two options for breast reconstruction:
- Breast reconstruction can be performed using saline or silicone implants. For optimal cosmetic results, a tissue expander helps gently stretch the breast skin to allow for accommodation of the implant. After the breast has expanded to the ideal size, I can place the implant, which can be followed with nipple reconstruction or nipple tattooing.
- Muscle and tissue flap reconstruction uses skin and tissue from other areas of the body to form the breast mound rather than an implant. While I focus on implant-based reconstruction and oncoplastic surgery, I can refer patients to a flap reconstruction specialist.
In either case, the entire breast must be reconstructed to recreate a breast mound.