It can be overwhelming to weigh all the possible breast reconstruction options at the same time as trying to understand the ramifications of a mastectomy. It helps to have a breast surgeon who is not only compassionate, but who has the experience and training to help provide the details you need to make an informed choice about breast reconstruction. Women from Long Island and New York City confidently choose Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery because they know Dr. Romanelli and Dr. Pincus both have advanced training in breast surgeries.
If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer or are considering a preventive mastectomy, request a free surgical consultation to meet with one of our surgeons. Or, you can call (631) 424-3600 to schedule an appointment.
Before & After Breast Reconstruction
This patient, age 47, underwent bilateral, nipple-sparing mastectomies and then immediate (direct-to-implant) reconstruction with silicone gel implants. For additional photos of our breast reconstruction patients, visit our photo gallery.
Keep in mind that each patient is unique and your results may vary.
Although it can be difficult to think about breast reconstruction after being diagnosed with cancer or choosing a preventive mastectomy, your consultation can be a time when you can regain an empowering sense of control. Either Dr. Romanelli or Dr. Pincus will meet with you to discuss your goals and provide all the information you need to reach a decision. That will include discussing the risks and disadvantages of each procedure, in addition to the advantages. Successful breast reconstruction involves knowing both the potential and the limits of what surgery can achieve.
Choosing a Procedure
Each woman's personal circumstances and physical condition are unique. Certain options — including not having breast reconstruction — might be more appropriate for one patient than another. Our mission at Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery is to provide you with the facts and expertise you need to make a well-informed decision.
Reconstruction surgery may be performed either at the time of your mastectomy (in an "immediate" procedure) or later ("delayed"). Sometimes a general surgeon recommends that a patient delay the reconstruction if she is still undergoing treatment for cancer.
When you choose an immediate reconstruction procedure, Dr. Romanelli or Dr. Pincus will collaborate with your breast surgeon to formulate a surgical plan. One advantage of immediate reconstruction is the ability to preserve and use much of the breast skin. Many patients also feel it helps emotionally to awake from surgery with complete or partial breast volume. Here are some options for immediate procedures:
Breast Reconstruction With Implant
In many cases, our surgeons can immediately insert permanent breast implants. Our patients who are good candidates for this procedure have enough healthy skin remaining after a mastectomy to accommodate full-sized implants. The advantages of a direct-to-implant procedure include avoiding additional surgeries and beginning your recovery immediately.
Immediate Tissue Expansion
Some women who opt for reconstruction using breast implants require tissue expanders. One reason an expander might be chosen would be if you needed radiation treatment after the mastectomy. Expanders are temporary implants that are gradually inflated at a few appointments in the weeks after your mastectomy. We fill the expanders with a saline solution until your skin and tissue grow enough that the desired size is reached. Then, in another surgery, your physician will insert permanent implants, much like a breast augmentation procedure.
Autologous Tissue Reconstruction (Flap Surgery)
Some patients choose to use their own tissue to reconstruct the breast mound after a mastectomy. Although a more complex surgery than using artificial implants, autologous tissue reconstruction (known as flap surgery) can result in breasts that look and feel more natural than those with implants. We transplant a section of skin, muscle, fat, and blood vessels to the chest and shape it into a viable breast shape. Dr. Romanelli and Dr. Pincus usually take the tissue from the abdomen or upper back. Because this surgery is longer and involves more than 1 area of the body, recovery from a flap surgery is also longer than reconstruction with implants.
|Abdominal Tissue Flap||Scars After Flap Surgery|
Some women choose to delay their breast reconstruction. That includes patients who initially choose not to have reconstruction surgery, and then change their minds. Other women may be undergoing treatment such as radiation therapy and are not physically able to undergo the reconstruction surgery. Still other patients simply want to make their decision after the mastectomy is finished. Patients who delay reconstructive surgery can still choose either tissue expansion with implants or one of the flap surgeries.
Our Team Approach
Dr. Romanelli and Dr. Pincus possess unique experience, training, and skills, ensuring you receive the best possible care before, during, and after your reconstruction surgery. The physicians work with each other and with Romanelli Cosmetic Surgery's medical team to create a personalized surgical plan for you.
Dr. Romanelli is Chief of Staff at Huntington Hospital and has more than 20 years of private surgical experience. He is among a select group of investigative plastic surgeons chosen to participate in 3 FDA-approved silicone-gel breast implant studies sponsored by leading manufacturers Mentor® and Allergan.
How long does it take to recover after breast reconstruction surgery?
Recovery depends on the reconstruction method, as well as your physical condition before the surgery and a number of other factors. Generally, a direct-to-implant procedure results in the shortest and least painful recovery, usually lasting about 1 to 2 weeks. Recovering after having tissue expanders inserted is similar, but you will also undergo a second surgery about 3 months or longer after your mastectomy.
Flap procedures require longer recovery time — usually 4 to 6 weeks of limited activity — because the surgery involves more than 1 area of the body.
If I have a mastectomy on only 1 breast, will you enhance my other breast, as well?
Federal law requires insurance companies to cover not only reconstruction surgery, but also any cosmetic surgery needed to bring balance to the breasts and create symmetry. That includes a breast lift on your other breast if necessary, to lift, reduce, or enlarge that breast. Insurance also covers the cost of procedures related to reconstruction, such as filling tissue expanders and nipple reconstruction.
For answers to other common questions about breast reconstruction surgery, visit our Breast Reconstruction FAQ page.