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Understanding Prosthetic Breast Reconstruction

If you had a mastectomy as part of your breast cancer treatment, you’re undoubtedly considering your options for breast reconstruction. Once you’ve decided to get the reconstruction done, the first decision to make is between an autologous reconstruction, where your own skin and fat tissue are used to form the new breast, or prosthetic reconstruction which uses artificial implants.

Prosthetic breast reconstruction has a number of advantages and disadvantages when compared to autologous reconstruction. The process is similar to a standard breast augmentation and therefore shares many of the same risks. There is a chance your body will reject the foreign substance of the implant, as well as the possibility of implant deflation. Furthermore, artificial breast implants are not meant to last forever and will require further work to either adjust, repair, or replace them at some point.

That being said, there are a number of key advantages to prosthetic breast reconstruction. The procedure necessary to implant the prosthesis is significantly shorter than the one required to remove and then reattach autologous tissue. This minimizes the risk of complications during surgery. Another important factor to consider is that prosthetic reconstruction only produces scarring in the breast area, where scarring was already likely to happen from the mastectomy. The autologous procedure, as it involves removing tissue from somewhere else on your body, produces scars in two places.

Generally, prosthetic breast reconstruction is performed in two stages. In the first stage, expanders are implanted which are slowly filled with increasing amounts of saline solution over the course of several doctors visits. The expanders form a pocket within the patient’s chest that will receive the final prosthetic implant. Once the chest tissue is healed enough, the expanders are removed and implants inserted. This can be done as early as six weeks after mastectomy, although it can take as long as six months depending on the patient’s level of health and healing rate.

Regardless of whether you choose prosthetic or autologous reconstruction, and no matter if you choose to have it done immediately, or wait until after radiation therapy, it’s important to know what your options are early enough so that you can choose the one that’s best for you.

What options are available to you, and which of those options are better than the others will depend a great deal on your diagnosis, the stage of your cancer when diagnosed, your goals for how you would like your reconstructed breasts to look, as well as your own unique physiology. When you book a consultation with Dr. Liu, he will take all these factors into consideration when discussing your options with you, so that you can make the choices that are best for you.

Dr. Perry Liu is a board certified plastic surgeon. His skills embody the convergence of art and medicine that is the essence of aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. Dr. Liu is graduate of Duke University, and continued on to medical school at Emory University in Atlanta You can find Dr. Perry Liu on Google+. Dr. Liu is located in Beverly Hills for breast reconstruction services.