What Are the Different Breast Reconstruction Options?
A variety of breast reconstructive techniques are available that offer cosmetically-appealing results. Multiple factors, such as the patient's goals, medical condition, and previous surgery, are considered when choosing between reconstruction using breast implants or flaps of tissue moved from other parts of the body.
One procedure to consider after breast reconstruction is nipple reconstruction. Usually, the nipple and areola (the dark area around the nipple) are removed during the mastectomy operation to decrease the risk of cancer recurrence.
Nipple/areola reconstruction is usually done at a later date after reconstruction of the breast is complete. This allows new breast tissue to heal and settle into place so minor adjustments in size and position can be carried out when the nipple and areola are reconstructed.
The nipple/areola reconstruction is typically an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Tissue for the nipple/areola is often taken from the newly constructed breast. To match the color of the nipple of the other breast and to create the areola, medical tattooing may be done.
The prosthetic nipple is another option that may be temporary or permanent. The plastic surgeon makes a copy of your natural nipple and colors the areola. It can be adhered to the breast using prosthetic glue and re-glued every week or so.
How Long Does Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take?
Preparation for breast reconstruction surgery, including administering anesthesia, may take two hours. Once the plastic surgery team takes over, the reconstructive portion of the procedure may take anywhere from one to six hours.
Following surgery, the patient spends approximately two to three hours in the recovery room before being transferred to a hospital room.
Recovery From Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
For the first few days after surgery, you may experience some discomfort, but you will be given pain medication as needed. Throughout your hospital stay, your recovery will be closely monitored.
Soon after surgery you will be encouraged to move your arms, but not for any forceful activity such as pulling yourself up, getting out of bed, or lifting heavy objects. Nurses will help you in and out of bed. The day after surgery, you will normally be able to sit in a chair beside the bed. On the second day, most patients are walking without assistance.
Intravenous fluids will probably continue for a day or two, but you will gradually progress to a regular diet. You may have a urinary catheter in overnight or until you can walk to the bathroom. You will also have drains at the incision sites. If you go home with these drains in place, you will be given instructions on how to care for them.
The length of your hospital stay depends on the type of operation and how your recovery progresses. If you've gotten implants, the average length of hospitalization is one to two days. Flap procedures require a stay of five to six days.