Breast reconstruction is an option for many patients who have lost a breast due to cancer or some other condition. At Albany Medical Center, patients may have the option of breast reconstruction with implants, free flap reconstruction and/or nipple areola reconstruction. Regardless, it is a highly individualized procedure and our doctors are committed to explaining all of the options available so that the patient can make the best decision for their lives and emotional well-being.
Reconstruction with implants. Following a mastectomy, the plastic surgeon can begin the reconstruction process by placing a tissue expander beneath the muscles of the chest wall. The patient then receives a series of injections of saline into the expander as an outpatient until the desired breast size is achieved. The expander is then removed and a permanent implant, either silicone or saline, is placed. This procedure can take up 1 year to complete.
Reconstruction with the patient's tissue. Breasts can also be reconstructed using a patient's tissue from the tummy, back, thighs, or buttocks to rebuild the breast. The two most common types of tissue flap surgeries are the TRAM flap (or transverse rectus abdominis muscle flap), which uses tissue from the tummy area, and the latissimus dorsi flap, which uses tissue from the upper back. Free flap procedures typically lasts several hours depending on the type of reconstruction and a hospital stay may last several days as well. Although technically more complex than other breast reconstruction techniques, the potential benefits of free flap breast reconstruction can be significant after the patient has fully recovered from surgery.