Breast Reconstruction Tallahassee
Since 1978, the board-certified surgeons at Tallahassee Plastic Surgery Clinic have been serving patients from the Florida and South Georgia area with their breast cancer concerns. From procedure to recovery, our trained team of surgeons has become well rehearsed in the art of breast reconstruction.
What is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is a procedure that restores and rebuilds breast tissue to a natural-looking appearance and size. The creation of a new breast can dramatically improve your self-image, self-confidence, and quality of life. Breast reconstruction can begin at the same time as a mastectomy or be delayed. Some cancer patients may prefer to wait until the termination of cancer treatments or let the mastectomy completely heal before having reconstructive surgery. Insurance plans do cover breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
What’s the Process?
Our team of skilled plastic surgeons uses multiple advanced plastic surgery techniques for breast reconstruction. After a personal consultation, we help patients determine the method that best matches their desired appearance and fits their physical needs. A newly shaped breast may be formed by an implant (silicone gel or salt water), a tissue flap from another area of the body, or a combination of both techniques. We determine which method to use on a case-by-case basis to better serve each individual. We look at the healing process, the available breast tissue, and other health factors.
Reconstructive surgery that utilizes a breast implant can be done immediately during the mastectomy or years after. If enough tissue is available to cover the implant, the surgeon will often place the implant under the chest muscle. In many cases where there is not enough tissue available to cover the silicone or saline implant, an expander will be used to stretch the skin to accommodate. An expander is similar to a balloon. The surgeon will inject it with fluid, usually weekly, to expand the skin over time, typically 2 months. Once the tissue has stretched, the final implant can be put into place in another operation (usually, outpaient). Additionally, some surgeons may recommend having a biological surgical mesh placed around the implant, which gives the tissues a structure to grow on.
Breast Reconstruction that uses a tissue flap from another area of the body typically comes from the abdomen (often called a TRAM or DIEP flap) or the back (often called a Latissimus Dorsi flap). Like an implant, this procedure can be done at the time of the mastectomy or years later. This form of reconstruction typically requires a longer recovery time. However, the final result is often a more natural look. For example, the tissue will fluctuate with weight, whereas an implant stays the same size. When the tissue is taken from the abdomen, there is usually enough tissue to reconstruct a breast, and an implant is not necessary. However, when tissue is taken from the back there is seldom enough, and therefore the technique will be combined with an implant. The tissue flap can also be used to cover an implant or an expander.
How’s the Recovery?
The final results of breast reconstruction surgery can help lessen the physical and emotional impact of a mastectomy. Patients usually experience tiredness or soreness for around two weeks after an implant surgery and longer after a flap procedure. This is due to more areas needing healing. Over time, some breast sensation may return, and scar lines will improve, although they’ll never disappear completely. Arm exercises can be implemented to prevent stiffness in the arm and should be done daily. Be sure to attend checkups as often as your surgeon deems necessary.
The experience of losing a breast can be emotional, despite reconstruction. Having a support group or counselor can help with the mental aspects of healing. Additionally, our trained staff can answer any questions that many come up during the recovery process.
Our staff can best determine if a patient is a good match for breast reconstruction during a private, confidential consultation. There are, however, some general qualifications that a potential patient should consider:
- Are you able to cope well with your diagnosis and corresponding treatment?
- Do you have any additional medical conditions or other illnesses that may impair healing?
- Are you an athlete or do you have a demanding job?
- Do you have a positive outlook and realistic goals for restoring your breast and body image?
- Do you smoke or use nicotin-containing products that increase complication rates? If so, quit immediately!
Please feel free to download our online patient forms and schedule a consultation. The Tallahassee Plastic Surgery Clinic’s reconstructive surgeons explain that there are trade-offs, but most women feel these are small compared to the significant improvement in their quality of life and the ability to look and feel whole. Careful monitoring of breast health through self-exams, mammography, and other diagnostic techniques is essential to your long-term health.
Browse our before and after photo gallery, which features actual photographs from our satisfied patients. Our testimonials page provides firsthand information on the patient experience. Call us at 850-877-2126 for more details or to schedule your personal consultation.