Breast Reconstruction Surgery in Austin, TX
Reconstructive Surgery from a Woman’s Perspective
The decision to reconstruct a breast after cancer is a highly personal one. Women who choose to take this step are on a journey to recovery, and reconstruction is often a step that brings psychological healing and restoration of a woman’s self-confidence. The importance of this process should not be underestimated. Choosing the right board-certified plastic surgeon is imperative to ensuring a positive experience and a superior outcome.
Dr. Christine Fisher has extensive experience working with breast cancer survivors to provide aesthetically beautiful reconstructive outcomes. To help her patients feel whole once more, Dr. Fisher works closely with each patient to create the surgical plan that will meet her needs and expectations best. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to breast reconstruction. Experienced in a broad range of techniques, including those she has perfected in her practice, Dr. Fisher is uniquely qualified to help women achieve beautifully natural results through reconstructive surgery. Whether you choose a flap technique that uses tissue from your own body or opt for an implant-based breast reconstruction, Dr. Fisher will work to ensure your outcome meets your expectations and your desired results. For some patients, a combination of the two techniques may be used to produce the best possible results.
Options in Breast Reconstruction
To ensure all her patients receive a customized approach to their breast reconstruction, Dr. Fisher offers the full spectrum of options and techniques:
Breast reconstruction using flap techniques entails removing tissue from another area of the patient’s body and using that to create the new breast. The specific procedure varies based on the donor site. Dr. Fisher performs the following flap techniques:
- DIEP Flap – an advanced method that uses excess lower abdominal skin and fat to reconstruct the breast without the need to remove muscle or damage surrounding nerves.
- SIEA Flap – similar to the DIEP flap technique in using abdominal skin and fat, but uses blood vessels closer to the skin’s surface.
- GAP Flap – this technique uses skin and fat from the buttock, producing a slight lift of the buttock after the tissue is removed.
- PAP Flap or TUG Flap – fat and skin are removed from the upper inner thigh or posterior thigh to reconstruct the breast, tightening and lifting the thigh; results in a donor site scar hidden in the groin or buttock crease.
- LD Flap – removes the skin, fat and latissimus muscle from the upper back to reconstruct the breast; recommended for patients that are not good candidates for another technique or who had radiation and need to bring non-irradiated tissue to the breast to cover an implant.
Breast Reconstruction Using Implants
Women who do not have sufficient tissue for a flap procedure or prefer not to use a flap reconstruction may choose to reconstruct the breast using silicone implants. The implants come in various sizes to accommodate various body proportions. In a simpler second-step procedure, the tissue expander is removed and a silicone implant is placed. Typically, fat grafting is also done at this time to improve the natural appearance of the reconstructed breast. In many cases, an expander is placed first at the time of mastectomy to create an ideally shaped space for the implant. This staged approach requires more than one surgery to complete the reconstruction but can offer excellent results for the right patient.
FAQs about Breast Reconstruction
Women considering breast reconstruction understandably have many questions about the process. Dr. Fisher is happy to answer all of them at your consultation or subsequent appointments, but these are answers to some of the most common questions we hear in our office:
Why should I consider breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is a highly personal decision for a woman. While some do not choose this path, most do and find it is a critical component of their healing journey. Breast reconstruction restores the body after cancer surgery, which can boost a woman’s confidence, sense of health and sense of femininity in many cases.
When is the right time for my procedure?
That is entirely up to you. Some women choose to begin the breast reconstruction process at the time of their mastectomy. With an immediate reconstruction a woman wakes up with tissue expanders, implants or a completed living tissue breast reconstruction, such as a DIEP flap reconstruction. Others are not emotionally or medically ready to undergo breast reconstruction until a point after that procedure. Dr. Fisher will help you determine the best course of action for you.
What does it mean to have staged procedures?
A staged procedure is performed in steps, which means you will undergo more than one surgery to complete the reconstructive process. In most cases, this applies to breast reconstruction surgeries where implants are involved. One procedure will be needed to place an expander, which is often done at the same time as the mastectomy. The expander will gradually be filled over the course of a few months to make room for the implant. At that time the expander will be removed and the final silicone implant will be placed through a second surgery.
What if I need more cancer treatment?
Dr. Fisher will work with your oncologist and the breast cancer surgeon to determine the safest way to handle your reconstruction process, and keep you informed of all of your available reconstructive options, as well as their pros and cons. Rest assured that nearly all women can have reconstruction, due to the many options available in this procedure today.
How long is the recovery after breast reconstruction?
That will depend on how your reconstruction is performed and whether a portion of it is done at the same time as your mastectomy. In most cases, women are back to the majority of their activities within four weeks. Strenuous exercise can generally be resumed after six to eight weeks.
What if I need nipple reconstruction?
If you are not a candidate for a nipple-sparing mastectomy, nipple reconstruction can help you achieve a more natural appearance to your breasts. This procedure is done using skin from the surrounding area to create a small nipple centered on the breast in a natural position. Nipple reconstruction can usually be done about three months after breast reconstruction surgery. Some patients prefer a nipple that does not protrude as a bump. For a smooth breast we recommend 3-D nipple-areolar tattooing for a natural result. Nipple-areolar tattooing creates a natural pigment and texture and can be done a few months after the last reconstructive procedure.
Restoring What Cancer Takes Away
The loss of one or both breasts due to cancer surgery, a congenital breast disorder or a heightened risk of breast cancer can be a stressful experience. For some, the breasts are seen as a sign of femininity, and when a woman loses this feature, it can impact her psychologically as well as physically. The process of reconstruction can be a vital step in the healing process for many women, allowing them to feel confident and regain a natural proportionate shape and a healthy look after breast cancer treatment.
With compassion, personalized attention and expert care, Dr. Fisher and her team will guide you through the reconstruction process. Her skills in both traditional implants and innovative flap techniques allow her to tailor your procedure to your unique situation based on a variety of factors. She will listen to your concerns and goals and guide you on your journey from breast cancer patient to breast cancer survivor.
To learn more about your options in breast reconstruction, contact our office today at 512-815-0123 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Fisher or send us a message to schedule a consultation.
Living tissue reconstruction techniques:
Implant based reconstruction techniques such as:
- Staged Breast Reconstruction: two-step reconstruction, with initial tissue expander placement followed by saline or silicone breast implant placement
- “Direct to Implant” Breast Reconstruction: single step saline or silicone breast implant at the time the mastectomy
- Latissimus Dorsi Myocutaneous Flap with Saline or Silicone Breast Implant
Tissue Expander Breast Reconstruction