Life After Mastectomy: Is Breast Reconstruction Using Implants Right For You?

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Life After Mastectomy: Is Breast Reconstruction Using Implants Right For You?

What To Know About Having A Mastectomy

A mastectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of all breast tissue. There are various types of mastectomy, such as total, modified radical, and radical mastectomy. After a mastectomy, most patients undergo breast reconstruction to rebuild the shape and size of the breast. Breast reconstruction can be done either simultaneously with mastectomy or performed later.

Possible risks of mastectomy

There are potential complications after a mastectomy but not every patient experiences the risks. The complications include bleeding, infection, pain, soreness, and swelling. Less common risks include hardness at the incision site, clear fluid in the breast post-mastectomy, and depression. At the surgical site, there will be scar formation. Sometimes scar tissue can develop in the armpit, become inflamed, and form a tight band. If this happens, arm movement may be limited after surgery.

Types of breast reconstruction

Currently, there are three types of breast reconstruction. Simultaneous reconstruction is where the reconstruction is performed at the same time as the mastectomy. Staged reconstruction is when a temporary tissue expander is placed to allow the muscle and skin to stretch gradually. Delayed reconstruction is usually done after the completion of all treatments. The doctor will discuss the associated risk and benefits of each reconstruction type.

Saline or silicone

Reconstructive surgery is carried out with the use of implants. There are two types of breast implants used during this type of surgery. Saline implants are made of a silicone outer shell filled with sterile salt water. The second type of implant is silicone gel implants, a firmer choice associated with fewer chances of breaking. Both options come in many different sizes.

Are implants safe?

Concerns or questions may arise when considering getting reconstruction done with implants. According to studies, silicone implants do not pose a health risk. Some may experience fatigue, memory loss, and joint pain, but the causal relationship is not proven yet. There have been possible links between breast implants to a rare type of cancer that forms around the implant. More research is needed. Speak to the healthcare provider when contemplating getting a breast reconstruction using implants.

The use of tissue

Donated human skin or pig skin may be used as tissue support for implants or expanders. This product is called acellular dermal matrix, and helps keep the implant or expander in position. Speak to the healthcare provider to determine if this product is appropriate.

The recovery period

Recuperating from the surgery will take time and requires patience. The healthcare provider will prescribe pain medications and recommend rest and avoidance of strenuous activities. Normal activities can typically be resumed in about 6 weeks. However, some people may take 1-2 years to recover completely. The specialist will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the surgical area. For most women, the outcome of breast reconstruction is a positive one.

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