Breast reconstruction is a procedure most commonly performed as a result of mastectomy (full breast removal) or lumpectomy (removal of a portion of the breast) due to breast cancer. Dr. Lisa Hunsicker is also a pioneer in helping women who are interested in reconstruction after prophylactic or preventative mastectomy surgeries due to a breast cancer gene mutation or strong family history of breast cancer. In all cases, breast reconstruction is a procedure to help restore a more natural breast appearance.
Although breast reconstruction can be performed at different times in your cancer treatment, there are some reconstruction options that are only available at certain stages during your cancer treatment. At Revalla, we believe that all women should be familiar with the reconstructive options available to them, so that they can make a comprehensive plan before any surgical intervention takes place.
The information found in the links below provides an overview of the most common breast reconstruction techniques:
- Reconstruction after Mastectomy
- Reconstruction after Lumpectomy
- Oncoplasty as part of Breast Cancer Surgery
- Direct-to-Implant Reconstruction
- Tissue Expander Reconstruction
- Flap Reconstruction
- Fat Grafting Reconstruction
- Nipple Reconstruction
- Cancer Survivorship Resources
Dr. Hunsicker often performs a single-stage, direct-to-implant procedure that allows for immediate reconstruction during the same surgery as the mastectomy. It is performed in tandem with the General Surgeon. Dr. Hunsicker is one of an elite few surgeons in the country to develop and use this direct-to implant technique on a regular basis. She is nationally-recognized for her experience honing this procedure and has more than a decade of experience offering it successfully to hundreds of patients.
LITTLETON BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY
Dr. Hunsicker believes a team approach to cancer care, with clear communication and collaboration, is the key to more surgeons offering this innovative single-stage reconstruction technique. The video below highlights the strong rapport between members of the Littleton Adventist Hospital Breast Cancer Care team, and how this trust in each other helps their patients thrive.
HOW WE PERFORM BREAST RECONSTRUCTION
There are a variety of factors, including cancer stage, chemotherapy, radiation, medical history, and prior surgical history, that can affect your options for breast reconstruction. Dr. Hunsicker reviews all the appropriate reconstruction options with each of her patients and then works with you, your General Surgeon, and the rest of your cancer treatment team to determine which course of action is best suited to your individual situation.
Here are a few of the most common options that women should consider:
A procedure which allows patients to have a permanent breast implant placed at the time of mastectomy, allowing women to emerge from surgery fully-reconstructed.
A procedure in which a tissue expander is placed at the time of mastectomy, and secondary surgery for permanent implant placement is performed at a later date. The tissue expander is a modified saline implant with a valve that allows for more saline to be added over the course of several weeks. Once the tissue has been stretched to allow for the volume of the new implant, the tissue expander is then exchanged for a permanent implant in a separate surgery.
Procedures that use muscle flaps and fatty tissue from other areas of the body to create a breast mound. Sometimes these forms of reconstruction can also be performed at the time of mastectomy.
A procedure that is started after patients have healed from mastectomy and cancer treatment; it uses a patient’s own body fat to create a breast mound. This technique usually involves the use of a device called the Brava System.
Performed after breast reconstruction, this is a secondary surgery to reconstruct patients’ nipples if nipple-sparing has not been an option during primary reconstruction.
Areola tattooing is a popular, non-surgical method for recreating the appearance of an areola after breast reconstruction. A tattoo is used to create a permanent and natural-looking areola.
BREAST RECONSTRUCTION FAQ
As soon as you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you can begin the discussion about breast reconstruction. It is important to consider the various options available to you before any surgical intervention is taken since some cancer treatment plans can impact your reconstructive choices. Your general surgeon and plastic surgeon should work together to develop a comprehensive strategy that will put you in the best possible condition for your cancer treatment and your general wellness. Dr. Hunsicker will explain which reconstructive options are most appropriate for your age, health, anatomy, and tissues. Click here for resources on preparing for your breast reconstruction surgery.
In most cases, health insurance will cover most or all of the cost of post-mastectomy reconstruction. Check your policy to see if there are any limitations on what types of reconstruction are covered. At Revalla, we can help you find answers to many of your insurance questions, and we can work to anticipate challenges before they occur. Part of your initial consultation with our office can include a review of your eligibility and benefits.
After surgery, Dr. Hunsicker usually prefers patients wear a soft, loose post-mastectomy camisole. Four small drains will be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid, and the camisole has pockets which make the drains easier to manage post-operatively. Dr. Hunsicker also uses an injectable numbing medication, to help reduce the discomfort after surgery and so that the use of a pain pump is not necessary.
You will be given specific instructions about caring for your surgical sites, medications, specific concerns to watch for, and when to come in for a follow-up appointment.
All surgeries inevitably carry a degree of risk, and Dr. Hunsicker can review the potential risks relevant to you based on your individual health factors and specific surgical plan. However, most patients consider these risks acceptable when compared to the benefits of surgery. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your surgeon.