After a mastectomy or an injury/accident, breast reconstruction is a surgery that can be immensely gratifying for the patient. A patient may have beaten breast cancer, but the loss of one or both breasts can leave her feeling incomplete or flawed. Reconstruction of the breast or breasts by Dr. Hetzler can change a patient’s self-image.
Dr. Hetzler has extensive experience in the various methods used for breast reconstruction. Plus, our entire staff will help you through the entire reconstruction process.
Here is some information on breast reconstruction.
Most mastectomy patients are medically appropriate for reconstruction. Many patients can have reconstruction immediately after the breast is removed. This has the advantage of the patient never had to see themselves without one or both breasts.
But there are good reasons to wait, as well. Many patients simply can’t deal with the thought of more complicated surgery beyond losing a breast. Other times health issues may dictate a delay before reconstruction.
- Skin expansion
The most common technique used by Dr. Hetzler for reconstruction combines skin expansion and the subsequent insertion of an implant. Following mastectomy, Dr. Hetzler inserts a balloon expander beneath your skin and chest muscle. Through a tiny valve he then periodically injects a salt-water solution into the expander to gently stretch the skin over the breast area. When the skin has stretched enough, a second procedure will remove the expander and replace it with an implant. In some cases, the expander can function as that implant. In a subsequent procedure, Dr. Hetzler will reconstruct the areola and nipple.
Some patients don’t require tissue expansion to make room for an implant. In these cases, the implant can be inserted after mastectomy.
- Flap reconstruction
Instead of implant insertion, some patients opt to have a breast constructed using a skin flap taken from another area on the body, usually the back, abdomen, or buttocks.
In one method, the tissue remains attached to its original site, retaining its blood supply. The flap, consisting of the skin, fat, and muscle with its blood supply, is tunneled beneath the skin to the chest, either creating the pocket for an implant or creating the breast mound itself.
Another flap technique takes tissue surgically from the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks and transplants it to the chest. Blood vessels are reconnected to the new area. Dr. Hetzler uses his experience in microvascular surgery for this blood vessel work.