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There are several different breast reconstruction options available to meet the varying needs of each of our patients. Breast reconstruction may be done with implants, various flap procedures, and may include nipple reconstruction as well. Dr. David Passaretti can outline the different types of procedures and your breast reconstruction options at his Darien, CT, practice. He can help you understand the benefits and risks of each procedure to decide the right treatment plan for you.
Breast implants are suitable for a wide range of patients that may not qualify for other procedures. An implant reconstruction is also highly customizable—you can choose silicone or saline implants, where the implant will be placed, and where the incisions will be located. With a skilled surgeon, such as Dr. Passaretti, implants can look and feel natural.
Many women will require a tissue expander to create space for the implant, which can result in a longer reconstruction process. Additionally, implants can rupture or deflate, and they generally only last about 10 years before they must be replaced.
The TRAM flap offers a more natural look and feel without the use of synthetic materials. This procedure removes tissue from the abdomen to reconstruct the breast. Many women feel that flap procedures offer the most physical and emotional benefits with breasts that look and feel natural, crafted from their own tissues.
It is important to remember that the TRAM flap procedure is lengthy and requires a longer recovery period than reconstruction with implants. Because this method affects the abdomen, you may experience reduced functionality of the abdominal muscles and tissues. You must have adequate abdominal tissue and blood supply, so it is not an ideal procedure for patients with connective tissue disorders or vascular disease. This procedure will also create additional scars in the abdomen.
A DIEP flap reconstruction also utilizes your own tissue from your abdomen to recreate your breasts, giving them a more natural look and feel. However, this procedure does not use abdominal muscles, unlike the TRAM flap method, and can reduce your risk of a hernia and muscle weakness. This method also can involve less pain and discomfort, and boasts a shorter recovery period. You will also enjoy abdominal contouring similar to that of a tummy tuck.
To undergo a DIEP reconstruction, you must have sufficient abdominal tissue and fat, and must be without any connective tissue disorders. The DIEP flap method is also a lengthier procedure than those involving implants, and results in additional scarring in the abdomen. In addition, if there is an interruption in the blood supply, for any reason, the procedure may fail and you may need additional surgery.
Dr. Passaretti can help you understand the benefits and risks of each procedure to decide the right treatment plan for you.
As with the other flap methods, the latissimus flap reconstruction method creates a breast that looks and feels natural, but with minimal scarring. This approach will take tissue from the back rather than the abdomen. This approach may not be suitable for everyone, as patients must have sufficient muscle and fat in the upper back. Latissimus flap reconstruction technique can also result in reduced muscle function in the upper back.
A nipple reconstruction procedure is relatively short and requires a shorter recovery period than any flap surgery. Recreating the nipple can make your breasts look more natural, especially with the use of tattoos, which can be used to create a darker shade for the nipple and areola. Patients whose tissue is extremely thin or was damaged by radiation may not qualify for nipple reconstruction, though tattooing may still be an option. The results, however, may not be permanent. Over time, the nipple can flatten and the tattoo ink may likely fade.
Breast reconstruction can provide significant benefits for patients who have undergone a mastectomy. Contact our office today to learn more about each procedure and to determine which procedure is right for you.