Breast Reconstruction in San Diego, CA

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what is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction surgery can be performed to restore one or both of the breasts to an attractive size, shape, and appearance following a lumpectomy or mastectomy. This life-enhancing procedure can also be performed to repair the chest if your breasts have been damaged by a birth defect or trauma. Advanced techniques and tools in reconstructive surgery make it easier for breast cancer patients to feel whole again and have breasts that look natural, even after cancer removal or injury. This surgery generally involves several procedures performed in different stages that could begin immediately after your breast cancer treatment or whenever you feel comfortable. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Steve Laverson will craft a personalized surgical plan suited to meet your unique needs. At San Diego Cosmetic Clinic, Dr. Laverson loves working with cancer survivors and their oncology teams to restore their physical appearance and confidence. If breast reconstruction surgery could be what you need to regain your sense of femininity, contact our San Diego, CA office and schedule a consultation.

am i a candidate for breast reconstruction?

Reconstruction of the breast(s) is an extremely personalized surgery. Each patient will be required to have an in-depth consultative appointment with Dr. Laverson to determine their surgical plan based on their concerns, needs, and available techniques. If you are considering reconstruction, it's important that you understand realistic expectations for results. While Dr. Laverson aims to give you an attractive, natural appearance, your reconstructed breast(s) may not have the same sensations, feel, or look the same as your original breast(s). You should be cleared by your oncology team to undergo reconstruction surgery and talk to Dr. Laverson regarding other medical conditions that may impair your recovery.

how does breast reconstruction work?

Fortunately, there are many surgical techniques available to reconstruct the breasts. There are also multiple factors that Dr. Laverson considers when deciding on the technique that will give you your best results. A few of these factors include your specific cancer diagnosis, when the reconstruction is performed, whether you will use implants or natural tissue, and if nipple reconstruction or nipple-sparing will be a part of the treatment plan. To recreate the breast, you must have enough tissue to fully cover the breast mound. Flap techniques accomplish this by using your own muscle, skin, and fat to build and cover the breast. The most popularly employed flap techniques are:

  • TRAM Flap
    This technique takes muscle, skin, and fat from your abdomen to rebuild the breast. The tissue selected to build the new breast may be removed from the stomach or the tissue may stay connected to the donor location, maintaining the original blood supply.
  • DIEP Flap
    Similar to a TRAM flap, the DIEP flap uses skin, fat, and blood vessels from the lower abdominal area; however, it does not use the muscle. The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap moves skin and fat from the stomach to build the new breast, then uses microsurgery to reattach the transferred blood vessels to the chest wall.
  • Latissimus Dorsi Flap
    This technique uses muscle, fat, and skin from your back. For this method, tissue is taken from the back to the breast(s) via a surgically created path so it stays attached to the donor location, which keeps the original blood supply in place.
  • PAP Flap
    Another flap is the profunda artery perforator (PAP). This method uses fat, skin, and muscle tissue from your inner thigh to reconstruct your breast(s).
  • LTP Flap
    Although the TRAM flap is one of the most common techniques used for breast reconstruction, sometimes there isn't enough muscle, fat, and skin that can be taken from the abdominal area. In this case, the LTP flap technique may be performed, which uses tissue from the outer thigh.
  • Composite Flap
    Also called a composite stacked flap, this technique takes flaps from various sections of your body for breast reconstruction.

Additional Considerations

Although flap procedures are a common and highly successful method for breast reconstruction surgery, it could be advisable to rebuild your breast(s) with the tissue expansion method. This technique places a tissue expander below the breast wall and is gradually filled with a saline solution over 4 – 6 months to stretch the skin naturally. After you choose the flap method or tissue expansion, you may then decide whether you would prefer to use breast implants or a fat transfer to create the shape and volume of the breast(s). After your reconstruction mammoplasty, you can further improve their appearance by having areola and nipple reconstruction. There are several ways to restore the nipple and areola so that it appears natural.

How long is recovery after breast reconstruction?

Surgical breast reconstruction is done in several steps. In some phases (like the flap creation, tissue expansion, or implant placement), general anesthesia may be used. Some patients may need to stay overnight after their treatment, but this will depend on the actual treatment phase. When the last stage is completed for your breast reconstruction, you should wear a medical support bra. Additionally, you may be prescribed medication by Dr. Laverson to help control discomfort, swelling, and bleeding. In time, the reconstructed breast(s) should appear more natural, and your comfort will increase. Regular checks with breast exams and mammograms are essential and highly recommended for your ongoing health.

breast reconstruction faq

Does insurance cover my surgery?
The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) of 1998 requires health insurance policies that cover breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) to cover reconstruction surgery as well. If you have health insurance, a team member at San Diego Cosmetic Clinic will work to understand your policy and benefits. We can also assist you in getting any needed information to your insurance provider.

Which technique should I choose?
With so many options available, there is no single reconstruction technique that works for every patient. The recommended method for you will depend on your concerns, wants, and physique. In your initial consultation, Dr. Laverson will explain your choices, including both flaps and implants, so you can understand the advantages and drawbacks of each before deciding which is best for you. Whether you choose a flap or implants, Dr. Laverson will do his best to make your results look natural.

What about nipple reconstruction?
Nipple and areola reconstruction are typically done using 3D cosmetic tattooing. If you're interested in this, you should talk to Dr. Laverson during your initial consultation. He will explain your options to help you decide whether you'd like nipple and areola reconstruction to be included in your surgical plan.

Should I have reconstruction with my mastectomy or wait?
The timing of your breast reconstruction is a personal decision. Some patients decide to have their breast(s) reconstructed along with their mastectomy while others decide to wait until later. Dr. Laverson suggests you make an appointment for a consultation following a diagnosis of breast cancer so you can start thinking about your choices, including when you want to have breast reconstruction surgery. If you want to receive your reconstruction alongside your breast cancer treatment, Dr. Laverson will collaborate with your oncology team to plan your care.

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Recovery Time  
1 – 2 weeks
Average Procedure Time  
1 – 4 hours
Procedure Recovery Location  
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Reclaim Your Self-Confidence

Although the process of breast reconstruction can take time, it's probably one of the top beneficial surgeries for our San Diego, CA patients at San Diego Cosmetic Clinic. It can help improve the physical and emotional impact of breast cancer treatment while also allowing you to reclaim your figure and self-confidence. If you have breast cancer, have had an injury to the chest, or have a congenital defect that affects the appearance of your breasts, we encourage you to contact our San Diego, CA office and schedule an appointment with board-certified plastic surgeon and cosmetic breast specialist Dr. Steve Laverson.

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