Breast reconstruction, or mastectomy, is a type of surgery for women who have had a breast removed. Breast reconstruction surgery rebuilds the breast so that it is about the same size and shape as it was before or whatever new size the woman desires. The nipple and the darker area around the nipple, the areola, can also be reconstructed at the same time. Most women who have already had a mastectomy can still have reconstruction. Women who have had only the part of the breast around the cancer removed, a lumpectomy, may not need reconstruction.
Many women who have a mastectomy choose reconstructive surgery to rebuild the shape and look of the breast. For women who have lost a breast to cancer or other trauma, a breast reconstruction can have a very positive effect on their self-confidence. We value the opportunity to help you become whole again.
Dr. Heidi Harrington, a board certified plastic surgeon, is highly trained in breast reconstruction surgery following cancer and has been performing this reconstructive care for women with breast cancer for 3 years. The techniques for immediate and delayed reconstruction are continually advancing. Dr. Harrington regularly attends and participates in national conferences.
Currently Dr. Harrington is involved with Portsmouth Hospital, providing urgent consultations for women with a new diagnosis of breast cancer. Dr.Harrington attends tumor boards at Portsmouth Hospital and participates in multidisciplinary care decisions, providing our patients with the best possible results.
Click here to download the Breast Reconstruction Planner, compiled by American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Plan your breast reconstruction and read tips from the experts and former patients.
Together, you and Dr. Harrington will determine ifreconstruction is right for you. Dr. Harrington will ask you numerous questions about your health, medical history, goals, lifestyle and concerns. Together, you will talk about the benefits and risks of reconstruction. She wants you to be fully informed before having your breast reconstruction surgery.
The choice to have breast reconstruction is yours to make. Women choose breast reconstruction to make their breasts look balanced when they are wearing a bra, to permanently regain their breast shape and to avoid having to use a form or external prosthesis that fits inside the bra. You will be able to see the difference between the reconstructed breast and the remaining breast, while wearing only a bra. But, the breasts will look enough alike in size and shape that you will feel comfortable about how you look in clothes.
Before the surgery Dr. Harrington may ask you to have some testing done, ask you to stop taking or adjust medicine you are on, or to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin. Dr. Harrington will give you instructions on what to do on the day of surgery and also what to expect during your post-operative care and follow-up appointments.
There are a range of reconstructive options, which Dr. Harrington will discuss with you:
Immediate reconstruction is performed at the same time as the mastectomy. An advantage of this is that the chest tissues are not damaged by radiation therapy or scarring. This often means that the final result looks better. Also, immediate reconstruction means less surgery. After the first surgery, there still may be a number of steps that are needed to complete the immediate reconstruction process. If you are planning to have immediate reconstruction, be sure to ask what will need to be done afterward and how long it will take.
Women who have already had their mastectomy, can have a delayed reconstruction, even after several months or years. Delayed breast reconstruction means that the rebuilding is started later. This may be a better choice for some women who need radiation to the chest area after the mastectomy. Radiation therapy given after breast reconstruction surgery can cause problems.
Each year more than 254,000 American women face breast cancer. Today, the emotional and physical results are very different from what they were in the past. Much more is now known about breast cancer and its treatment. New kinds of treatment as well as improved reconstructive surgery mean that women who have breast cancer today have better choices.
A new option in breast reconstruction surgery that is gaining popularity is "Autologous Free Fat Graft Reconstruction", which uses fat instead of implants or tissue transplant. Fat is harvested from the patients own abdomen and injected into the area of the chest where the breast was, with preparations ahead of time.
At Atlantic Plastic Surgery Center, we are able to provide the most advanced, comprehensive reconstructive care for our patients. We want to make you as comfortable as possible and know that you are in good hands.
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