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When patients undergo a partial removal (lumpectomy) or complete removal (mastectomy) of the breast, they often also get breast reconstruction surgery. This can help to ease a difficult and painful time in a woman’s life. Dr. Aisha White regularly performs breast reconstruction for Austin patients at Quintessence Plastic Surgery.
Breast Reconstruction Techniques
Breast reconstruction procedures can be done at the time of the cancer surgery or at a later time depending on your situation and preference. If you decided not to have reconstructive surgery at the time of your cancer treatment, the window of opportunity for reconstruction hasn’t closed. Breast reconstruction surgery can be done at any time after the cancer surgery is complete.
When performing lumpectomy, single mastectomy, or double mastectomy reconstruction surgery, Dr. White applies her artistry and mastery to achieve the best results for you. During a consultation, she will go over the variety of techniques that can be utilized, alone or in combination, to reconstruct your breasts and help you feel whole again.
The following techniques are most commonly used for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or lumpectomy: placement of breast implants, use of flaps (your own tissue taken from another part of the body), and fat grafting. Nipple reconstruction and tattooing can also be done to complete the full reconstruction of the breast.
A breast implant can be placed to restore volume in the region. This option may require the placement of tissue expanders beforehand. These prosthetics are slowly filled with saline over the course of several months in order to gradually expand the tissues, creating a space for the implant.
A flap reconstruction restores volume and appearance using the body’s own tissue. A flap may include skin, muscle, fatty tissue, and blood vessels. There are many types of flaps. A DIEP flap (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator flap) is taken from the lower abdomen and does not include muscle tissue. A TRAM flap (Transverse Rectus Abdominis Muscle flap) is also taken from this area but includes muscle tissue.
Fat grafting involves the removal of fat from an area of the body via liposuction. After this fat is purified, it is reinjected to restore volume.
Nipple Reconstruction Surgery vs. Nipple Tattoo
Many patients choose to have nipple reconstruction surgery or to get nipple tattoos in order to restore their desired aesthetic after breast reconstruction surgery. Dr. White will help you select the approach that best achieves your treatment goals.
Nipple Reconstruction Surgery
Dr. White can reconstruct nipples using surgical techniques. She often recommends this approach for patients who want to restore a natural-looking protruding nipple. Nipple reconstruction surgery methods include:
- Skin flap reconstruction – Dr. White can use this technique if there is sufficient skin in the reconstructed breast area to build a nipple mound.
- Skin graft reconstruction – In some cases, Dr. White will need to graft skin from another area of the body to achieve the patient’s desired nipple protrusion.
- Nipple sharing – If a patient has a nipple that was not affected by breast reconstruction, Dr. White may be able to graft part of the nipple onto the reconstructed breast.
Your safety and treatment goals are always Dr. White’s priority. She will discuss all of your options for nipple reconstruction and answer any questions you have so you can make an informed decision.
Many breast reconstruction patients opt for 3-D nipple tattoos instead of nipple reconstruction surgery, as 3-D tattoos can achieve realistic-looking results without the need for a surgical procedure. Tattoo artists can apply permanent 3-D nipple tattoos that are customized in terms of color, size, and shape to create the appearance of natural areolas.
The nipple tattoo process begins with a consultation with a tattoo artist to design your nipple tattoos. You can create your desired look by choosing the pigment, size, and placement of your tattoos. The tattoo artist will also give you detailed instructions regarding preparation for the procedure.
In general, preparation for a 3-D nipple tattoo appointment is simple, requiring only that you arrive with clean skin. The artist will start by disinfecting the breast area and working with you to finalize pigment and placement decisions. Next, the artist will mix the pigment and begin applying your tattoo. It typically takes 30 minutes or less for an artist to tattoo a 3-D nipple.
Once finished, the artist will bandage the tattooed area. It typically takes seven to ten days for the area to heal. Your tattoo artist will provide aftercare guidance to ensure optimal results.
Recovery After Breast Reconstruction
Once your reconstructive breast procedure is complete and you have returned home, you will need to rest and recover. The details of healing vary depending on the chosen procedure. No matter which technique was chosen, following Dr. White’s care directions will be key for a safe recovery.
You will need to take time off from work until you are cleared to return by Dr. White. There will be bruising and swelling, along with discomfort; these issues will be temporary. Pain-control medication will be prescribed, and you will need to wear a supportive surgical bra for a time.
Breast Reconstruction Cost
The price of breast reconstruction is typically covered by health insurance. This includes all reconstructive techniques (flap reconstruction, implant reconstruction, fat grafting, areola/nipple reconstruction, and cosmetic tattooing). Breast reconstruction cost will depend on the specific techniques used, along with a number of other factors.
Learn More – Arrange a Consultation
To learn more about breast reconstruction in Austin or to schedule a consultation, contact Quintessence Plastic Surgery.. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Aisha White will walk you through the details of the procedure and can show you breast reconstruction before and after photos.
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