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Restore Natural Appearance with Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction restores a natural, symmetrical appearance to the bosom; maintains body proportion; allows clothes to fit better and, most important of all, boosts self-confidence for women who have lost one or both breasts to mastectomy or who lack breasts due to a congenital or developmental abnormality. Reconstructive surgeons strive to create a new breast and nipple that resemble the woman’s natural breast as closely as possible in shape, size and position. The unaffected breast is also reshaped to give it a more youthful look with improved symmetry.

Procedures

A commonly used technique combines skin expansion with implant insertion. First, the surgeon inserts a balloon expander beneath the skin and chest muscle. In the office, a saline (salt water) solution is injected into the expander, stretching the skin until the breast mound reaches the desired size. The expander is then replaced with a permanent implant. A final procedure reconstructs the nipple and areola (the dark area of skin around the nipple). In very rare situations, a patient may not require tissue expansion but will begin with the implant.

Another, type of breast implant reconstruction involves the creation of a breast using tissue from other parts of the body. If the flap is not large enough to serve as the new breast by itself, an implant can be inserted beneath it. The tissue that is transferred consists of skin, fat and occasionally muscle from the back, abdomen or thigh. This muscle may either be surgically removed and reattached (free flap, requiring a microvascular surgeon) or remain connected to its original blood supply and “tunneled” through the body to the chest (pedicled flap). These procedures are known as DIEP flaps, muscle-sparing TRAM flaps, and TUG flaps, respectively. Some advantages of these procedures over implant insertion are a more natural look and feel for the breast and abdomen and elimination of any risks associated with silicone implants; disadvantages are scars at the breast and donor-tissue site and longer recovery.


Our surgeons perform all of the above-mentioned procedures frequently and with good results. We are one of the few practices in South Texas that offers some of the more complicated procedures, such as DIEP flaps and muscle-sparing TRAM flaps. We work with all of the general and breast surgeons in the area so that we can perform the reconstructive procedures immediately after the mastectomy, if desired and appropriate.

Both implant insertion and tissue flap surgery are followed by nipple and areola reconstruction and revision surgery on the reconstructed breast to optimize the appearance. The reconstructed breast will probably look and feel different from the natural breast. Further surgery may be desired to adjust the natural breast to better match the reconstructed one. Good symmetry is usually obtained, although perfect symmetry, which is usually not present before surgery, is not always reached.

Mastectomy patients are usually candidates for breast reconstruction. The breast reconstruction can be performed immediately after the mastectomy in many cases to get the best results. In certain cases, delaying the breast reconstruction may be the best option. A consultation with one of our plastic surgeons, who will review your medical history after a detailed examination, will allow us to advise you best on the recommended treatment.

Patients who have had a more limited procedure to treat breast cancer (through a lumpectomy and radiation) may also be candidates for breast reconstruction. This can be done to restore symmetry, and a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons will help determine if you are a good candidate for this procedure.


The breast reconstruction itself consists of multiple operations, the first of which involves the creation of the breast mound, and is performed during or after the mastectomy in a hospital and under general anesthesia. Later surgeries, if necessary, may be done in the hospital or an outpatient facility, with either general or local anesthesia.

There are several ways to reconstruct the breast, both with and without implants; your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon should work together with you in deciding which is the best for you.

After Surgery

Most patients will be in the hospital for two to four days and will then go home. We give them medications for pain and, if required, nausea and antibiotics. Most patients will have surgical drains, which need to be cared for. The drains should be emptied every eight hours, and the output should be carefully measured in milliliters and recorded separately. This is because we remove the drains when the output is a certain amount. All drains are usually removed within three to four weeks after surgery.

Patients may shower two days after the surgery. Although the area can get wet, there can be no immersion of the wounds, which means no swimming or wading in pools, bath-tubs and other such activities. It is also important to not perform any strenuous activities. All normal activities can be performed, but nothing that requires strenuous use of the arms, and in the case of TRAM flaps or DIEP flaps, no strenuous use of the abdomen. This limited activity level should be strictly followed for four to six weeks after the surgery is performed.


The reconstructed breast will be numb following surgery; some sensation will return as time passes. Scars will fade over time. Periodic mammograms with a radiologist trained to examine breasts with implants are recommended.

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Postoperative Instructions

It is important to follow all of your doctor’s postoperative instructions for breast reconstruction surgery to achieve the best possible results. Corpus Christi Institute of Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery patients are provided with detailed instructions to ensure the best outcome to the procedure.

Why Choose Dr. Vijay

Why Choose Dr. Vijay

Dr. Vijay is very unique in the sense of his great customer care, service and experience. He approaches each client as an individual and takes the time to thoroughly understand their needs and desired results.

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