A woman’s breasts are a vital part of her self-esteem. Losing one or both breasts to a mastectomy can be a devastating blow to a woman’s confidence, making her feel less feminine or less desirable to others. At the Naderi Center, our breast reconstruction procedures are designed to restore a beautiful, natural looking chest that can rebuild a woman’s pride in her appearance.
The benefits of breast reconstruction include:
- Breasts that look and feel natural
- Breast symmetry
- Reconstructed nipple/areola
- Chest volume that looks attractive under clothing
- Restored confidence in the appearance
Breast Reconstruction with Dr. Erica Anderson:
The Naderi Center’s Dr. Erica Anderson has years of experience helping women through the delicate and emotional process of breast reconstruction following a mastectomy. Her cutting-edge techniques help women obtain the desired, natural-looking breasts that can restore self-image and improve confidence in the appearance. While breast reconstruction can dramatically improve a woman’s quality of life, the process can be daunting. Dr. Anderson is committed to helping each patient through this difficult time, as she adjusts to her newly reconstructed breasts.
Breast reconstruction at the Naderi Center can be immediate, performed at the same time as a mastectomy, or delayed, performed months or years after the initial surgery. This will depend on several factors including a woman’s health and personal preference. In some cases, if only one breast is to be reconstructed, Dr. Anderson may recommend breast augmentation, breast reduction, or a breast lift procedure for the opposite breast. This can better improve breast symmetry for a more natural, visually appealing chest.
Good Candidates for Breast Reconstruction:
Many women, who have or will soon undergo a mastectomy, can make an excellent candidate for breast reconstruction. As the breast reconstruction procedure is not medically necessary, it is important that women choose to have the aesthetic procedure to please themselves, not those around them. The best candidates will be in generally good health, without any additional medical conditions that can impair the healing process. Women should understand the recommended reconstruction technique and hold realistic expectations for their results. Even in situations where chemotherapy is to be continued, the breast reconstruction process can move forward. Together with the oncologist, Dr. Anderson will determine if this procedure is right for an individual patient.
The Breast Reconstruction Consultation with Dr. Anderson:
Patients who are considering breast reconstruction following a mastectomy should schedule a consultation with Dr. Anderson at the Naderi Center. At this time, she will take a full assessment, reviewing both the medical and surgical history. Dr. Anderson will also perform a brief physical examination. While discussing the patient’s physical and aesthetic goals, Dr. Anderson uses before/after photographs of her recent breast reconstruction patients, as well as computer imagery, to assist in creating a realistic picture of the potential results. If this treatment is decided upon, Dr. Anderson will consult with the surgical oncologist as needed, creating a personalized treatment plan. The professionals at the Naderi Center will then walk patients step-by-step through the process, from payment plans to the recovery stage.
Breast Reconstruction at the Naderi Center:
As every woman’s situation is different, each breast reconstruction procedure at the Naderi Center will be unique, designed to meet her specific needs. Some reconstruction procedures will require a one-to-two night hospital stay, while some surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis. Procedures are done under general anesthesia and take from one to three hours to complete, although this duration can vary.
There are two major types of breast reconstruction; skin expansion and flap reconstruction. The exact technique utilized by Dr. Anderson will be determined by the patient’s physical needs and aesthetic desires. More than one surgical procedure, performed over several months, may be necessary for desired results. Once the breast reconstructive surgery is complete, Dr. Anderson can recreate a nipple and areola, placing these for optimal aesthetic results.
Skin expansion is the most common technique used for breast reconstruction today. A balloon expander is first placed below the skin and chest muscle, then slowly filled with saline over a period of time ranging from one to six weeks. As the tissue stretches, a pocket is formed for the breast implant. Once the desired pocket has been created, Dr. Anderson will remove the expander and place the saline or silicone implant(s).
Flap reconstruction uses tissue and skin from a surrounding location, such as the back, abdomen, or thighs, to recreate the breast. The tissue is removed and then carefully placed along the targeted chest area. Dr. Anderson will meticulously reattach vessels from the chest wall to the transferred tissue, continuing the blood flow. In some instances, the tissue flap may be tunneled to the breast area, remaining attached to its original blood supply. As soon as the tissue is in place, a pocket can be created for the implant. An additional option is the creation of a breast mound, sculpted from the newly moved tissue.
Types of flap reconstruction can include:
- Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) Flap – Extracted fat and abdominal skin are used to recreate breast tissue. The DIEP flap does not remove any muscle from the abdomen.
- Latissimus Dorsi Myocutaneous Flap – Using the latissimus dorsi muscle of the back, tissue is moved to the chest to create a breast mound or pocket for an implant.
- Transverse Rectus Abdominis (TRAM) Flap – The rectus abdominis muscle, from the abdomen, can be tunneled to the chest. With this technique, implants are not necessary, as the TRAM normally provides adequate tissue to match the healthy breast.
Recovering from Breast Reconstruction:
Patients should expect their breast reconstruction recovery to take several weeks, during which time they will be sore and tender. It can take up to six months for the breast tissue to fully heal and the swelling to completely resolve. While heavy lifting and strenuous activities need to be postponed for at least six weeks, many women are feeling well enough to return to work in two to four weeks.
After this treatment, the chest may be swollen, bruised, and mildly painful. Dr. Anderson will prescribe the needed medications for a comfortable recovery. Surgical drains will be used to control any build-up of fluids or blood. A surgical compression garment will need to be worn to help control swelling. The drains and sutures will be removed in seven to ten days.
Scarring is to be expected along the breast and the donor site. While the scars will fade slightly over time, they will continue to be visible. For most women, the dramatic aesthetic benefits of this procedure normally outweigh the drawbacks of scarring.
Potential Complications from Breast Reconstruction:
While today’s breast reconstruction procedure is considered safe and effective, there is the chance for complications to occur. These risks include unexpected bleeding, blood clots, infection, fluid build-up, and delayed healing. Flap surgery can risk partial loss of sensation along both the donor and reconstruction areas. Implants carry mild risks for rupture, malposition, asymmetry, and capsular contracture. Dr. Anderson has performed hundreds of breast reconstruction procedures, bringing her patients the most successful techniques available today. She understands the decision to have a breast reconstruction is deeply personal, and will fully review the chances for complications during the consultation appointment.
Get the information you need about breast reconstruction at the Naderi Center:
Dr. Anderson is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. As a woman, she understands that this procedure is a delicate and intimate process. Dr. Anderson provides tender, personalized care to each of her patients, offering the best breast reconstruction services in the Washington D.C. area. Contact the Naderi Center’s Chevy Chase office at 301.222.2020 or the Herndon office at 703.481.0002 to get more information, or to set up a complimentary breast reconstruction consultation with Dr. Anderson.
Breast Reconstruction FAQ:
Q – What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is the surgical process of restoring an aesthetically pleasing breast following a mastectomy procedure.
Q – Must breast reconstruction be performed at the time of my mastectomy?
Dr. Anderson’s reconstruction can be successfully performed at the time of the mastectomy (immediate), as well as months to years later (delayed). This decision can depend on patient preference, her health, and a variety of other factors.
Q – How is breast reconstruction performed?
There are several methods available at the Naderi Center for breast reconstruction, depending on your needs. One type of reconstruction involves a tissue expander and breast implant. Second, tissue from the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs can be harvested to create natural looking breast tissue. Nipple reconstruction can be performed, as well, creating a new nipple/areola.
Q – If I will need chemotherapy, can I still begin my breast reconstruction process?
Yes, in most cases, chemotherapy will not hamper the breast reconstruction process. If you will need chemotherapy after your mastectomy, your oncologist and Dr. Anderson will work together to establish a timetable for breast reconstruction that allows for adequate healing for the best results.
Q – What are the risks of breast reconstruction?
An experienced plastic surgeon, such as Dr. Anderson, lowers the risk for complications following this procedure. Although uncommon, risks following breast reconstruction include infection, bleeding, fluid build-up, asymmetry, capsular contracture, changes in nipple sensation, and tissue necrosis.