As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I have a passion for many types of cosmetic surgery, but breast reconstruction holds a special place in my heart, and I’m honored to help breast cancer survivors restore an appearance they’re more confident in. There are a lot of questions to ask before breast reconstruction, and a particularly common one I hear from women is, “will my breasts be symmetrical after surgery?” This is especially a concern for patients who only required a unilateral mastectomy (removal of one breast but not the other) and will be having one breast reconstructed. While symmetry can be a challenge in this case, there are several ways I can give your breasts a more balanced look and feel:
- Opting for autologous breast reconstruction. There are generally two ways to reconstruct a breast: using a breast implant or using the patient’s own tissue, usually by transferring fat, muscle, and skin from the abdominal area to the chest. Using your own tissue (called autologous breast reconstruction) is often the preferred method for patients who are having only one breast reconstructed, because this reconstructed breast is likely to have a closer shape, size, and feel to your natural breast than an implant is, especially as your body ages.
- Making changes to your natural breast at the same time. If your reconstructed breast does appear to be a very different shape or size than your natural breast, you may want to have surgery on your natural breast in order to improve the symmetry. Depending on the differences you’re trying to overcome, this could take the form of breast augmentation, breast reduction, or a breast lift.
- Including fat transfer. If you prefer an implant reconstruction, one way to give the results a slightly more natural touch is to also use a procedure called fat transfer. In this case, fat is removed from your abdomen, thighs, or other area and purified before being injected into the breasts. While this won’t produce enough volume to fully reconstruct a breast, it can give a slightly more natural shape and feel to breasts with implants. Fat transfer can also be successful for women who have had a lumpectomy. Removing the cancer often results in a loss of volume or a noticeable indent in one breast, and fat transfer can restore better symmetry with a particularly natural result.
If you’re concerned about breast symmetry after your breast reconstruction, remember this as well: nearly all women have some degree of breast asymmetry, so exact symmetry isn’t required for a natural, comfortable appearance. But keep in mind that, especially in the case of autologous reconstruction, your results are highly dependent on the skill of your surgeon, so be sure to look for a highly qualified board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction, like me, Dr. Franklyn Elliott. To start discussing your options, schedule a breast reconstruction consultation. Or, for more helpful tips and information, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.