A breast cancer diagnosis is often accompanied by concerns about losing a breast or having a breast left looking deformed. What many women don’t know is that they have myriad options in breast reconstruction, and that advances in technique and technology allow plastic and reconstructive surgeons to create breasts that look more natural and beautiful than ever.
Choosing the Right Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon for Treatment
The key to safe, effective breast reconstruction is the experience and skill of the surgeon performing the operation. Breast reconstruction is very complex and has a unique set of considerations and challenges. However, it is very successful in the hands of a surgeon like Dr. Kim MD, for whom this is a particular area of interest and expertise.
In cases like these, the surgeon’s bedside manner is as important as their experience and skill. Dr. Kim’s empathetic and thoughtful approach to breast reconstruction is appreciated by her patients, who understandably can feel nervous or anxious about treatment.
Women that are facing mastectomy have several breast reconstruction options. There is no universal right or wrong choice, and there are advantages and disadvantages to every option. A patient must do what is best for her health and most likely to achieve her desired aesthetic outcomes. Dr. Kim is devoted to helping her breast reconstruction patients identify the best approach based on their health, anatomy, goals and expectations. She is also committed to supporting patients throughout the entire decision-making process and helping them make these very personal choices.
Timing Breast Reconstruction
Some women, with the help of their medical teams, opt for an immediate breast reconstruction, during which both the mastectomy and first stage of breast reconstruction are performed in one surgery. Other women, at the advisement of their medical teams, elect for delayed reconstruction, which involves performing the reconstructive procedure months or even years after mastectomy.
Implant versus Flap-Based Reconstruction
There are several ways to reconstruct the breasts.
The first is with an implant placed in a pocket under or over the pectoral muscle. A tissue expander is often placed prior to the implant. This device acts as a space saver in preparation for the placement of an implant.
Pre-Pectoral Implant Breast Reconstruction
In particular, Dr. Kim specializes in pre-pectoral (above the muscle) breast reconstruction, in which the implant is placed directly under the skin. Placing the implant below the muscle often results in a flat or unnatural result, with a visible chest muscle and distorted-looking implant. With the pre-pectoral approach, there is little to no distortion or visible chest muscle, and generally less post-operative pain. Dr. Kim is one of a few surgeons in the LA area that has mastered this technique and has seen excellent results. Patients may also elect to have revisions from a submuscular position to a pre-pectoral position in cases of muscle and skin/chest animation. Patients are not suitable pre-pectoral reconstruction candidates if they smoke or have been radiated in the past.
Fat grafting or transfer can be used to help improve the look and feel of implant-based reconstruction. Fat is removed from another area of the patient’s body using liposuction, and injected into the breast to add soft, natural-feeling volume.
Flap Breast Reconstruction
Another breast reconstruction option is to use a flap of the patient’s own tissue and muscle to recreate the breast mound. These autologous flaps are taken from other areas of the body like the abdomen or back. They may be tunneled under the skin or detached from the “donor” area and attached to the chest. The result of flap-based reconstruction is very natural in look and feel. Dr. Kim does not specialize in this surgery, but can discuss if this is the best option for someone. There are several colleagues in the Beverly Hills area who she can make referrals to.
Breast symmetry is an important priority of breast reconstruction, and the opposite breast can be augmented, reduced or lifted in order to balance out the reconstructed breast.
Learn More about Breast Reconstruction
Women facing a breast cancer diagnosis or who have recently undergone mastectomy are invited to discuss their reconstructive options with Dr. Kim in consultation. Please call or email our office today to schedule an appointment.