Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction surgery unfortunately is incredibly common today. The reason for this surgery is mostly due to infections, disease and cancer of the breasts. As a result of our lifestyle, humans are becoming sicker which can result in not only detrimental damage to the body but also to the breasts.

Breast cancer has become extremely common and because of this, mastectomies have followed in its footsteps. Following a mastectomy, which is the removal of the breast either as a preventative measure to prevent breast cancer, but also as a treatment to help remove cancer cells and stop them from spreading to the rest of the body, a mastectomy can leave a woman feeling less feminine and the loss of a breast or both breasts can have devastating consequences for the individual’s self esteem and confidence.

Why have Breast Reconstruction Surgery?

A breast reconstruction can get you back on track to feeling; healthy, sexy and confident.

Breast reconstruction surgery is an elective plastic surgery and it is used to rebuild the breast, building on the foundations that have been left behind, building the breast to its original size and shape.

Breast reconstruction can be done in one of two ways. The first technique is to remove the left over fatty tissue and skin of the breast and use an implant to bring the breast back up to its original size and shape. The second technique is where the surgeon will use fat transfer which is where fat from other parts of the body are used into the breast, however this technique can only be used if the nipple and areola is still intact.

The breast reconstruction takes place in two stages, which are both completed under general anaesthetic. The first stage is where your surgeon will place a small ‘tissue expander’ under the chest muscle and skin. This is done via a small incision in the natural crease underneath your breast. This tissue expander can almost be compared to a balloon and is made out of silicone. This tissue expander will have very little effect on how your breasts appear at first.

After around 14 to 21 days, you have to go back to see your surgeon who will inject a small amount of saline into a valve which is connected to the tissue expander. The injection of saline forces the tissue expander to increase gradually, slowly pushing the tissue around it to ensure that there is enough space for the breast implants. Once the surgeon has injected the tissue expander to the size of your choice, then the surgeon will stop and you will have to wait between one month and three months to ensure that the skin has been fully stretched out.

At the end of the three-month stretching period, stage two of the process begins. Stage two is the implant surgery. The surgeon will re-open the incision sight and remove the tissue expander. The surgeon will then replace it with the same shape and size breast implant. The implant will be placed and then the muscle layers will be surgically sutured to ensure that the implants do not move.

As this is serious surgery, it must be completed under a general anaesthetic and the individual must stay in hospital for up to a week after having the procedure. This hospital stay is to ensure no complications arise after the surgery. In addition, small drains will be placed inside the wound. This is to ensure that there is no fluid build-up around the breast. This will usually be removed, once the drain runs clear of blood, before going home.

Risks and Complications

Generally, modern day surgery is considered safe.

Breast reconstruction surgery has its risks and complications like all other surgeries, which must be conducted under general anaesthetic. The general anaesthetic itself has numerous risks that include; suppressed breathing, blood clots in the legs, blood clots in the lungs, heart failure and even death. Approximately one-third of patients who receive an anaesthetic during surgery will experience “anaesthesia sickness” or post-operative nausea and vomiting (POVN).

The risks and complications of having breast reconstructive surgery include:

Infection is a potential risk and if not treated immediately, can result in devastating consequences.
Infection is usually treated with a course of antibiotics, however if the infection spreads from the wound into the breast and around the breast implant itself, this can result in the implant having to be removed and the whole procedure having to be conducted again from scratch, after the infection clears up and your body has recovered.

Keloid scarring is another complication. Keloid is where the scar becomes raised and red, resulting in a very sore, ugly looking scar which usually results in the scar having to be removed and the incision line having to be re stitched.

Scar tissue can be a serious complication. As the body tries to heal itself, it forms scar tissue over the implant. Usually, the scar tissue is broken down after time, however some individuals are not as lucky and the scar tissue can start squeezing and constricting the implant resulting in the implant changing shape and causing your breasts to look uneven. If this happens the scar tissue will have to be surgically removed along with the implant.

Q. How long does breast reconstruction surgery take?

A. Every surgeon is different however the operation should not take more than two hours depending if there are any complications.

Q. Once I have the tissue expander in, will I look like I have breasts?

A. Unfortunately, having the tissue expander under your chest muscle will not make a difference as it is stretching the skin underneath the check muscle. As you reach the end of the expanding process, you will just start to notice a bulge in that area.

Q. Will my breast implants leak?

A. The statistics show that 1 in every 10 women will have a leakage or break in their implants in the first 10 years of having the surgery; this is due to natural wear a tear. If this does happen, then you will need to seek medical advice immediately as silicone bleeding can occur whereby the implants leak molecules of silicone into the blood stream. As the implants are so close to the lymph nodes under the arm pit, if the silicone molecules reach the lymph nodes, then this can cause redness and swelling.

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Free Breast Reconstruction Free Breast Reconstructions for Women with Breast Cancer August 11, 2017 - Hearing you have breast cancer is a devastating blow for any woman. The treatment and journey back to health is usually exhausting, scary and emotional and often requires one or both breasts removed in a mastectomy. Whilst reconstruction after a mastectomy is an option, it is an expensive one and costing up to $20,000 or more many women can’t afford it. Dr Ross Farhadieh, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Sydney & Canberra tells us what many women are not aware of is that you can have the procedure performed for free through the public system at The Canberra hospital. Having her breasts removed can affect a woman’s self-esteem, her sex drive and how she sees herself as a woman. While obviously getting healthy is the most important priority, having your breasts reconstructed afterwards can be the final and important step in being able to move forward with your life. Free Breast Reconstruction Surgery Dr Farhadieh currently performs around two or three major microsurgical breast reconstructions per month at the Canberra Hospital, however says he and his team could do more if they received better funding. “If I have operating theatres and resources, I could do two or three every […]
Boobs Nipple Areola Reconstruction by Medical Cosmetic Tattoo May 17, 2017 - For many breast cancer survivors tattooing may be the final step in their breast reconstruction journey. This often involves creating the illusion of protrusion through the skilful design and application of colour performed by an experienced medical cosmetic tattooist. BREAST CANCER FACTS Sadly one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and on average 47 women, every day is diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia. Did you know that age is one of the risk factors for developing breast cancer, and more than two in three cases of breast cancer occur in women aged between 40 and 69 years? Early detection is the key, and it is attributed to improved survival rates through regular screening combined with improved treatments outcomes. All that said we still have on average seven women in Australia that die from breast cancer every day. FEELING COMPLETE Nipple areola tattooing is the final step in the breast reconstruction process, and for many women, it will be the very last procedure they undergo to complete their whole breast cancer and reconstructive journey. Some patients feel they have been through enough and just don’t want to have further surgery and choose not to proceed to […]
Nipple Areolar Reconstruction Nipple Areolar Reconstruction April 28, 2017 - For many women the journey from mastectomy to breast reconstruction is not complete until they have had nipple reconstructions performed. Not all women go down this path and many are happy to simply have something to replace their lost breasts in order to feel feminine. However, some women feel that they are not complete without nipple reconstructions since the breasts even after a very good reconstruction will not look natural without nipples and areolas on the breast mounds. For surgeons who perform breast reconstruction, nipple and areola reconstruction improves the aesthetic result and provides a sense of completion. Nevertheless, this should not be the reason to proceed with nipple reconstruction. Nipple Areolar Reconstruction Procedure Nipple reconstruction is usually a simple procedure that can be performed under a local anaesthetic in most cases. There are a variety of techniques described but most involve rearranging the skin and subcutaneous tissue on the breast mound in the position that the nipple needs to be. For a unilateral breast reconstruction the nipple position is either marked to match the other side or placed in a position where one expects to lift the nipple, if a breast lift or reduction is planned for the non-cancer […]
Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy Breast Reconstruction After Cancer October 22, 2016 - Breast cancer sucks. Unfortunately, as the most common cancer in women today, one in 8 of us will be diagnosed with it by the time we turn 85. It was estimated that around 42 women were diagnosed with breast cancer each day in 2015. Many of these women as part of their treatment will have one or both of their breasts removed in a mastectomy. Whilst it might save their life, it will also change it quite significantly. Having one or both of your breasts removed can change not only your psyche and identity as a woman, it can affect your confidence, self worth and your sex life. Not only that, it can mean your clothes don’t fit any more. Dr Damian Marucci, Cosmetic Plastic Reconstructive Surgeon based in Kogarah in Sydney says, “Breast reconstruction is a surgical process to restore the breast following a mastectomy. It can be performed in a number of ways: with breast implants, the patient’s own skin tissue, or a combination of the two procedures.” Breast Implants After a Mastectomy Breast Implants are the most popular choice for breast reconstruction. Dr Marucci says, “The implant is placed under the skin and muscle of the chest […]
Breast Enhancement Surgery Breast Enhancement Surgery – Information you should Know July 6, 2016 - Over 16000 Breast Enhancements are performed in Australia every year. Find out the information you should know before having a breast enhancement procedure after a mastectomy for reconstruction purposes, to replace already existing implants, or to augment your breast size.
Breast Cancer When the doctor gets sick – coming back from the brink – Rani’s* Story – My Breast Cancer Diagnosis December 9, 2015 - Recently, I was approached by “Rani” wanting to share her story of breast cancer. Rani is a doctor, and you just don’t think it can happen to a doctor – or at least I didn’t. Since hearing Rani’s it’s made me rethink what’s important, and what’s not, and also how important it’s up to us as individuals to take control of our personal health, life and wellbeing. I’ve made the decision to go ‘clean’ – ummm after the festive season of course. Here’s Rani’s story. Rani worked in a full-time role as a GP and an injecting doctor, supporting her two children as a single mum. Not only that, both of Rani’s children have Asperger syndrome and the youngest is diabetic as well. Yes, Rani was living the life of an accomplished career woman all the while juggling the responsibilities of her two children. She was doing it all quite successfully, until she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. “I was working like a lunatic and especially as a single mum.. I was running around on nervous energy – but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I had to take stock of my life.” Rani explained. As […]
Toni's Real Story CHECK YOUR BREASTS! BE BREAST AWARE! This is why! November 5, 2015 - We love hearing your stories, and think anyone who is willing to tell their story in a public forum is so brave, and you can never know how many people they might touch or help by sharing their experience. Toni is one of these women, and each and every one of us needs to read her story. She was lucky enough to have the assistance of one of our favourite surgeons, Dr Mark Hanikeri from Subiaco in WA which just reinforces why your plastic surgery experience is so often shaped by the surgeon you choose. Usually, we write an article around what someone tells us over the phone or emails us, but Toni has written her story in such a way that we wanted to leave it just as it is, in her words. Thanks for your bravery Toni, and we are so glad you are able to share your story with us. So, initially I had a small lump in my armpit. I had been quite unwell with various colds and things that I couldn’t shake, and I thought it was perhaps it was a by-product of that. One day I had a doctor’s appointment booked for my son […]
Mastectomy and Reconstruction Mastectomy and Reconstruction – Looking at the Statistics August 28, 2015 - A mastectomy is something most of us don’t really imagine, or hope, will be something we have to undergo. Usually, a mastectomy is performed due to cancer, or the threat of. Unfortunately, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimate that the number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2015 will be approximately 15,740, with 145 of those males, and 15,600 females. They estimate 3,065 people will die from breast cancer in 2015. There are a few reasons why we might be considering, or forced into having, a mastectomy: breast cancer (usually because it has spread to the lymph nodes or is quite large) family history of breast cancer – preventative (remember Angelina Jolie?) unable to have radiation therapy for cancer (for personal or medical reasons) unsuccessful lumpectomy (surgical operation to remove a cancerous lump in the breast – early stages of cancer). Mastectomies have become more common in recent years for a number of reasons. It is shown that women who undergo a mastectomy greatly reduce their risk of cancer. It also prevents the spread of cancer should you already have it and it is still confined to your breasts. Dr Charles Cope, Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon […]
Tina's Bilateral Breast Reconstruction Real Story – Tina’s bilateral breast reconstruction & free TRAM flaps January 27, 2015 - Tina has recently undergone a bilateral breast reconstruction and Free TRAM flaps surgery. She needed a mastectomy after she had breast cancer in her right breast, and the left breast was an elective mastectomy. The Free TRAM flaps surgery involves removing a flap from the patient’s body – in Tina’s case from her stomach – and attaching it to the chest through microsurgery. The main advantage to the Free TRAM flaps procedure is the consistency of the reconstructed breast; it is similar to the natural breast in softness and in the way the tissue drapes on the chest. Plus, because the flesh is part of the patients own body, it does not incite foreign-body reaction or capsular contractures. Tina’s mastectomy was performed previously to her bilateral breast reconstruction and the Free TRAM flaps were performed by Dr Damian Marucci. On choosing Dr Marucci, Tina said she didn’t look around too much. She came across Dr Marucci and felt very comfortable with him straight away. “Dr Marucci has all the science knowledge to the surgery and obviously all the education – he knows exactly what he is doing. He was very fast, everything to the point and also a very creative […]
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Dr Damian Marucci on Breast Reconstruction

Dr Gavin Sandercoe on Breast Reconstruction

Dr Ross Farhadieh on Breast Reconstruction – The Procedure Explained

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  1. Dr Matthew Peters - Combining artistry with technical skill - Skincare City - […] reconstruction post cancer. And I do a lot of body contouring work and I think out of all of…

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