What Options Do You Have After a Mastectomy? By Joseph M. Brown, MD, FACS on October 12, 2020

For patients recently diagnosed with breast cancer, the future can seem rather distant. Arrangements have to be made, and treatment has to be scheduled. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed during this time. With so many pressing decisions on your plate, planning your reconstruction may not seem like a priority. However, the decisions you make now will directly impact the options that are available to you when you are ready. This doesn’t mean you have to choose what reconstructive procedure you would like to have right now. But there are many options after a mastectomy.

Options After a Mastectomy

At this early stage, you just need to have a general idea of what options you have for breast reconstruction Tampa. By doing your research and having an open conversation with your doctor, you can make sure that your mastectomy and treatment decisions align with the reconstructive procedure(s) you are considering. Remember that it is always better to leave yourself with as many options as possible. Depending on the location of your tumor and the severity of your diagnosis, there may be some options that are unavailable to you. Therefore, you will want to discuss your plans with your oncologist ahead of your mastectomy to check that the option you’re considering is actually feasible.

Options to Consider for the Breast

Depending on your treatment plan, you may choose to have immediate or delayed reconstruction surgery. For many patients, delayed surgery is a better medical choice. It allows the patient to heal and complete their cancer treatment before undergoing the procedure. However, immediate reconstruction is a possibility for some.

Autologous reconstruction uses tissue from other parts of the body to reconstruct the breast. This procedure type is most commonly used for women who either do not wish to have an implant or do not have enough tissue left to support an implant. Patients in the last group may choose to do a hybrid procedure, using tissue from other areas of the body to create the support structure necessary to hold an implant in place.

In many cases, the latissimus dorsi is brought forward to replace the missing pectoral muscle. This flap technique is capable of supporting an implant. However, if the patient wishes to forgo implants entirely, skin and tissue can be taken from the lower abdomen, thigh, or posterior to replace breast tissue. This technique isn’t for everyone, so you will need to discuss it with your doctor.

Implant-based reconstruction utilizes a saline or silicone implant to reconstruct the breast. We provide the best quality breast implants has available. For patients undergoing immediate reconstruction, the procedure is similar to a conventional breast augmentation. Patients who choose to delay reconstruction may have to use a tissue expander to create the necessary pocket post-mastectomy.

Options to Consider for the Nipple

Nipple-sparing surgery may be possible if your surgeon feels confident that they can safely remove all cancerous tissue. However, sparing the nipple can be risky, so many surgeons will suggest removal if there is any doubt. If your nipples are removed, and you would like to have them reconstructed, then there are two options.

Tattoo only nipple replacement gives the visual impression of a nipple without rebuilding any of the tissue. A surprising amount of depth and detail can be recreated by a skilled artist. But there results in no actual dimension to the nipple.

You can also choose to have the tissue reconstructed and tattooed to mimic a natural nipple. Your own skin creates a realistic look and feel.

Choosing what is Right for You

The amount of tissue you have removed will largely decide what options are available to you for reconstruction. Before your mastectomy, make sure you understand your oncologist’s recommendations. And ask what tissue they will have removed. From there, reach out to a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss what reconstruction options will work with your oncologist’s recommendations. These are difficult conversations, but creating an open dialog with your oncologist and plastic surgeon at the beginning will make sure that you can make the decisions that are best for you.

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Dr. Joseph Brown

Plastic Surgery

A board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Joseph M. Brown strives to provide patients with transformative, yet natural results in a safe and comfortable environment. When you choose him as your provider, he will develop a patient-doctor relationship based on honesty, trust, and a clear understanding of a common goal. He is affiliated with organizations such as the:

  • American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons
  • Florida Medical Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American College of Surgeons

To get started, request an appointment using our form or call (813) 258-2425.

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