breast reconstruction

After Your Mastectomy: Body Tissue (Autologous) Reconstruction

PJ Hamel Health Guide August 22, 2009
  • Q. I’ve decided to have breast reconstruction after my mastectomy, and I’d like to do one of those reconstructions where they use your own body tissue, rather than have an implant. Since the surgeon will be using my body tissue, will my new breast be just like my original one?A. Autologou...

7 Comments
  • Phyllis Johnson
    Health Guide
    Aug. 22, 2009

    PJ, this is the clearest explanation of the different types of reconstruction that I have ever read.  Thank you.  

     

    Another reason someone might not be able to have reconstruction is radiation damage to her skin.  I had about twice as much radiation as the average breast cancer patient, so radiation is not going to be a problem for most...

    RHMLucky777

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    PJ, this is the clearest explanation of the different types of reconstruction that I have ever read.  Thank you.  

     

    Another reason someone might not be able to have reconstruction is radiation damage to her skin.  I had about twice as much radiation as the average breast cancer patient, so radiation is not going to be a problem for most women.  However, it was for me, and I've known other people with advanced cancers who had extensive radiation damage whose reconstruction choices were affected.

  • Andrea
    Aug. 27, 2009

    Hi PJ,

     

    I've recently read about a different autologous reconstruction method, or maybe it's a refinement of an existing one - I've forgotten what it's called.  The main difference is that it doesn't involving cutting muscle tissue.  Do you know anything about this?  Thanks, Andrea

    • PJ Hamel
      Health Guide
      Aug. 27, 2009

      Hi Andrea - I think you're talking about the DIEP flap. Here's a description of it from a plastic surgeon's Web site:

       

      "A slim incision along the bikini line is made much like that used for a tummy tuck. The necessary skin, soft tissue, and tiny feeding blood vessels are removed. These tiny blood vessels are matched to supplying vessels at the mastectomy...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hi Andrea - I think you're talking about the DIEP flap. Here's a description of it from a plastic surgeon's Web site:

       

      "A slim incision along the bikini line is made much like that used for a tummy tuck. The necessary skin, soft tissue, and tiny feeding blood vessels are removed. These tiny blood vessels are matched to supplying vessels at the mastectomy site and reattached under a microscope.

       

      "Unlike conventional TRAM flap reconstructions, use of our refined perforator flap techniques allow for collection of this tissue without sacrifice of underlying abdominal muscles. This tissue is then surgically transformed into a new breast mound. The abdomen is the most common donor site, since excess fat and skin are usually found in this area. In addition to reconstructing the breast the contour of the abdomen is often improved much like a tummy tuck."

       

      Sound like what you're asking about? Let me know if I can help with further info. - PJH

  • Jan
    Jan
    Aug. 25, 2009

    Thanks, P.J.  This was an excellent description.  I wanted to add another potential complication:  infection.  I know someone who opted for the TRAM flap and developed an  infection.  Since she was resistant to the oral antibiotics she was given to counter the infection, she had to spend a week in the hospital on IV antibiotics...

    RHMLucky777

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    Thanks, P.J.  This was an excellent description.  I wanted to add another potential complication:  infection.  I know someone who opted for the TRAM flap and developed an  infection.  Since she was resistant to the oral antibiotics she was given to counter the infection, she had to spend a week in the hospital on IV antibiotics to eradicate it completely.  Again, this doesn't mean it will happen to everyone; it's just something to be aware of.

    • PJ Hamel
      Health Guide
      Aug. 25, 2009

      Good point, Jan - I like how it "takes a village" to write this post. We have such a great community here... Thanks for adding your wisdom. PJH

  • Jo-Ann
    Aug. 22, 2009

    I agree with Phyllis.  PJ gives an excellent description of the procedure.  There are pros and cons to both kinds of implants. I hope that women really study them and make the best decision for them.  I have two silicone implants and I thought I'd just add to the discussion by explaining why I chose silicone.  The surgery is not as complicated. ...

    RHMLucky777

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    I agree with Phyllis.  PJ gives an excellent description of the procedure.  There are pros and cons to both kinds of implants. I hope that women really study them and make the best decision for them.  I have two silicone implants and I thought I'd just add to the discussion by explaining why I chose silicone.  The surgery is not as complicated.  It's shorter, and fewer complications happen.  Recovery is faster, as well.  If I was younger, I would have gone the other way, because of the look and feel of the implants and also because I would have them longer. 

    • PJ Hamel
      Health Guide
      Aug. 22, 2009

      Thanks for your input, JoAnn. I have posts on implants, and choosing a prosthesis, and how to make the decision about what kind of reconstruction to have - as well as how to make the decision about whether to have reconstruction at all - coming up soon. As you say, pros and cons to all of them - it's a very hard decision, all in all! PJH