Breast Reconstruction Options for Breast Cancer Patients

Every breast cancer diagnosis is different, and treatment plans are designed for each patient’s unique case.  According to the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States, about 226,870 women will be diagnosed with new cases of invasive breast cancer in 2012. If a woman has a mastectomy, or breast cancer removal surgery during which one or both of the affected breasts are removed, she may consider breast reconstruction surgery. Board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Franklyn Elliott has performed breast reconstruction for the last 25 years and understands the importance of educating every patient about their breast reconstruction options.

Although there are several breast reconstruction options, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that only 33 percent of eligible women undergo breast reconstruction. Dr. Elliott’s passion for breast reconstruction extends beyond educating his own patients. He often attends breast symposiums to teach other plastic surgeons the most advanced breast reconstruction techniques so they can educate their own patients.

Breast reconstruction surgery may be performed immediately or sometime after cancer removal depending on the patient’s situation. Immediate reconstruction occurs at the same time as the breast cancer removal procedure. Delayed reconstruction is an additional surgery performed after a mastectomy, even years after the breast cancer has been removed. Dr. Elliott offers a variety of breast reconstruction options including breast reconstruction with breast implants, reconstruction using tissue expanders, tissue flap reconstruction techniques, and breast reconstruction using acellular dermal matrices.

In tissue flap reconstruction procedures, the breast is reconstructed with the use of tissue from another part of the body such as the abdomen, back, thighs or buttocks.  There are many flap procedures including the TRAM flap, DIEP flap, and latissimus dorsi flap. The TRAM flap (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous  ) uses a section of skin, fat, blood vessels, and muscle to replace the breast tissue that had been removed. There are two techniques for TRAM flap procedures: free and pedicled. A free TRAM flap removes the tissue from the body to reattach it to the blood vessels in the chest, while pedicled TRAM flap uses tissue that maintains its original blood supply. The DIEP flap (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator) procedure is very similar to TRAM flap, but does not use muscle from the abdomen (only skin and fat).  Finally, the latissimus dorsi flap procedure is similar to the pedicled TRAM procedure, but uses tissue from the back rather than the abdomen. This procedure has the advantage of leaving minimal scarring on the back.

Acellular dermal matrix (ADM) is another breast reconstruction technique that Dr. Elliott uses with his breast patients.  ADM uses soft tissue replacements (either synthetic or animal based) to provide additional coverage and support for tissue expanders or implants used in breast reconstruction.

If you are interested in learning more about breast reconstruction options please contact our office today. Be sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google + to stay updated on the latest breast technology news and information.