Breast Cancer Reconstruction
Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer will change your life in every way. It can be an incredibly confusing and stressful time. You will be sent along a new life path filled with essential medical decisions, but you will have help along the way. Dr. Aycock can answer your many questions to help you decide whether and which type of breast reconstruction is right for you.
Over a Decade of Experience with Breast Cancer Patients
Breast reconstruction restores the natural shape of one or both breasts after either mastectomy or lumpectomy to help you feel comfortable with your body and experience healing. Drawing on her extensive work from over a decade with breast cancer patients, Dr. Aycock will listen to your hopes and desires to help you make the best and most informed choice possible.
DIEP Flap Reconstruction
This type of reconstruction uses extra skin and fat from the lower abdomen to create the shape of the reconstructed breast using your own natural tissue. DIEP reconstruction is a great option for those patients who have always thought about a tummy tuck, who are opposed to having an implant, who are unhappy with their current implant reconstruction, or who have needed radiation treatment before or after a mastectomy. DIEP flaps are transferred to the chest using microsurgery to reconnect the blood supply. The abdominal muscle is not removed, so there is a smaller chance of weakness of the abdominal wall. This breast reconstruction technique requires extensive training and expertise, so it is not offered by every plastic surgeon. Dr. Aycock was one of the first surgeons to offer the DIEP flap in Colorado.
Implant-based reconstruction is the most common technique and uses a breast implant to create the breast shape and volume. Direct-to-implant reconstruction may be performed in one procedure at the same time as a mastectomy. Some patients do better with a two-stage process using a tissue expander, which reshapes the mastectomy area in preparation for the breast implant. There are different types of implants as well as different incisions and locations for the implant. Each patient is unique, and these decisions will all be affected by breast size and shape, cancer size and location, and need for radiation as well as individual preferences. Dr. Aycock will take time to learn what is most important to you in order to help you decide on the best plan for you.
Many women choose lumpectomy surgery to preserve their natural breast. However, lumpectomy may cause a deformity or mismatch to the opposite side. If this is anticipated, Dr. Aycock will work with your breast cancer surgeon using plastic surgery techniques to reshape and lift the breasts to minimize indentations or changes in shape. These techniques are most effective if planned at the time of lumpectomy prior to radiation.
Revision of Reconstruction
If you have already had breast reconstruction but are dissatisfied with your results, Dr. Aycock can help. As an expert in breast reconstruction, Dr. Aycock will spend time really listening to discover what is bothering you and look for options such as resizing or relocation of implants, fat grafting, scar revision, or change in the type of reconstruction to help you reach an outcome you can be happy with.
Breast Cancer Reconstruction
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a good candidate for breast reconstruction?
Most women are good candidates for breast reconstruction. If you are otherwise in good health, do not smoke, and are at a stable weight, breast reconstruction could be right for you. Studies have shown that even older women who are otherwise healthy do very well with this type of surgery.
Is breast reconstruction necessary?
Breast reconstruction may not be right for every woman who is treated for breast cancer. However, if you have received a cancer diagnosis and must undergo a mastectomy or lumpectomy, breast reconstruction can help improve your emotional health and wellness. Many studies have shown that breast cancer reconstruction increases patients’ quality of life. After going through the trauma of breast cancer treatment, reconstruction can help you feel confident in getting back to the things you love to do. Dr. Aycock will help you decide whether breast reconstruction is right for you and will work with you to determine which approach best matches your needs and lifestyle.
Does insurance cover breast reconstruction?
If you have a breast cancer diagnosis, then in most cases federal law requires your insurance company to cover reconstruction after a mastectomy as well as procedures to achieve symmetry on the opposite side. This applies even if your cancer surgery occurred in the past.
When should I get my breast reconstruction?
The timing of your breast reconstruction may be “immediate” or “delayed.” An immediate reconstruction is performed at the same time as the mastectomy, which can cut down on the number of surgery sessions and may preserve more of the original breast skin to reduce visible scarring. Delayed reconstruction may be performed months or even years after your cancer treatment, which may be necessary depending on the additional treatment required for your type of breast cancer or other medical issues. The appropriate timing for your breast reconstruction is a highly personal decision. Dr. Aycock will be happy to discuss with you all the relevant factors that will assist you in making your decision.
What are the advantages of choosing a DIEP flap breast reconstruction?
While the DIEP flap is a longer and more complicated surgery, the benefit is that your own tissue is used, so you will have a more natural result that will not need to be replaced in the future. As a bonus, the removal of skin and fat flattens and tightens the abdomen, which produces many of the same aesthetic benefits as a tummy tuck.
How much scarring should I expect?
Breast reconstruction will always leave scars. Every effort is made to make the scars hidden if possible; however, the removal of breast cancer is always the number one priority. All patients will have a scar somewhere on or beneath the breast, and flap surgeries will also produce scars at the location from which tissue is moved. In the majority of cases, scars will initially be red or darkened but will typically fade over time.
Are breast implants dangerous?
There are many rumors about the safety of breast implants. Breast implants are one of the most studied medical devices in the world, and most scientific studies show that implants are very safe. There are only a few known risks associated with breast implants, and Dr. Aycock will extensively discuss all the risks and benefits that we know about so you can make an informed choice.
"Each woman has a different ideal and her own individual anatomy. I listen to you and your body to find options for beautiful and natural results. "
- Joyce Aycock, MD