Breast cancer can affect women of all ages. A mastectomy is sometimes used to remove cancerous tissue, which results in the loss of one or both breasts. If you require a mastectomy, there are reconstructive options available to you. A reconstructive surgeon is a doctor who specializes in cosmetic surgery. They can work with you to recreate the breast tissue that you lost. Here is what you will experience when you have breast reconstructive surgery:
1. Tissue expanders may be placed during your mastectomy
If you know ahead of time that you want to have reconstructive surgery, part of the process may begin during your mastectomy. After your surgeon excises your breast tissue, they will put tissue expanders into the pocket created in your skin. These expanders will gently stretch your skin and keep it from atrophying due to scarring. The space the expanders occupy will be used to hold breast implants in the future.
2. Saline will be added to your expanders over time
The skin over your tissue expanders will be allowed to stretch over time. In order to facilitate this gradual process, you will need to visit your cosmetic surgeon's office to have saline added to your expanders. The process is minimally invasive. Saline will be injected into your expanders using a needle, which means your doctor will not have to open your chest again. Most patients only have their expanders enlarged a few times. The number of visits required will depend on the size of your desired breast implants.
3. An implant will be placed in your breast.
When you're ready for your breast reconstruction surgery, an anesthesiologist will place you under general anesthesia. Once you're asleep, your cosmetic surgeon will cut into your chest and remove your tissue expander. Next, they will put the implant you've chosen in place. Some women prefer saline implants, while others choose silicone for its realistic feel. Your surgeon will likely place your implant under your pectoral muscle, in order to conceal its edges and give it a more natural appearance.
4. Nipple reconstruction surgery will be offered.
Nipple reconstruction is an additional procedure you can choose to have. This minor surgery is often performed in your cosmetic surgeon's office. Your doctor will numb your skin using an anesthetic injection. Your skin will be cut and sutured into a nipple shape, which can later be tattooed to achieve a realistic pink color.
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