Breast Reconstruction Following Mastectomy


You may be about to have or have had a mastectomy because you’re either at a very high risk of developing breast cancer or you’ve already been diagnosed with breast cancer. You cannot predict how you will react to losing a breast. You may feel uncertain, anxious, mournful, and sad for losing such a significant part of you and it is completely normal to feel that way.

Following the mastectomy, you may choose to undergo breast reconstruction surgery. The goal of breast reconstruction in Dubai is to restore one or both of the breasts to near normal size, shape, symmetry, and appearance following lumpectomy, mastectomy, or congenital deformities. Over the years there have been major achievements that have been made in breast reconstruction and women no longer have to deal with long, jagged scars that will impact their self-image. Thanks to advanced techniques in aesthetics, Plastic Surgeons can now rebuild a woman’s breast resulting in her silhouette being whole once again.

When to have breast reconstruction surgery

After delving into your feelings and doing some careful thinking, you’ll have to determine what is best for you and what you’d want to happen next. If you have chosen to move forward with breast reconstruction, your breast surgeon and the breast plastic and reconstructive surgeon will guide you on which option is best suited for you.

There are different timings on when you can have the breast reconstruction procedure and they include:

  • Simultaneous breast reconstruction. This is when you have an immediate reconstruction of your breast(s) at the same time as the mastectomy. This option is reasonable for women who do not need radiation therapy. Sometimes even with radiation therapy an immediate reconstruction can be performed but may also require a second-stage procedure several months after the initial reconstruction.
  • Staged breast reconstruction. Most women who require radiation treatment after a mastectomy are advised to have a staged breast reconstruction instead of simultaneous breast reconstruction. This is because if radiation is performed on a newly reconstructed breast, it can alter its cosmetic appearance over time making the implant deformed, hard, painful, contracted, or even exposed. This procedure involves inserting a tissue expander after the mastectomy to stretch the breast skin that was saved during the skin-sparing mastectomy procedure. This is done in preparation for the final reconstruction which is usually done several months following the radiation.
  • Delayed breast reconstruction. You can opt for a delayed breast reconstruction especially if your Plastic Surgeon was not involved during your mastectomy, you did not know your breast reconstruction options at the time or you were not ready to have the breast reconstruction.

Types of Breast Reconstruction

There are two main ways in which breasts can be reconstructed and they are:

  • Implants. These are made out of saline or silicone and sometimes a combination of both. They can be inserted during a mastectomy or after. They are usually placed under the chest muscle or under a biologic mesh called acellular dermal matrix.
  • Flaps. This involves creating a breast using tissue that is taken from other parts of the body such as the thighs, buttocks, back, or abdomen. The harvested tissue is then transposed to the breast area or transplanted into the chest area by reconnecting its blood vessels to the ones in the chest. Flap procedures are also known as autologous breast reconstruction.

Fat grafting can also be incorporated into the above procedures in order to create the desired shape. It involves harvesting fat via liposuction from another part of the body such as the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs. The fat is purified and carefully layered within the new breast to give you the look and feel of an actual breast.

Nipple and areola reconstruction

The nipple is normally removed during the mastectomy to minimize the chances of cancer returning especially if the tumor is situated close to the nipple. Nipple reconstruction is usually done when the new tissue has healed and settled into place. Nipple and areola reconstruction techniques normally involve folding of the skin in order to create a nipple’s shape and it is followed by tattooing. Sometimes three-dimensional nipple-areolar tattooing may be done alone to create a realistic nipple appearance with the illusion of a projection.

The surgery time for Breast Reconstruction

Preparing for the procedure, including getting the anesthesia can take around 30 to 60 minutes. The breast reconstruction procedure itself can take anywhere from 1-6 hours.

Recovery from Breast Reconstruction

You will have some discomfort following the procedure but you will be given pain medication as needed. You will be encouraged to move your arms soon after the surgery but not in a forceful manner. You will help to sit down on the first day but on the second day, most patients are usually able to walk without help.

You may have drains in the surgery sites and if you go home with them, you’ll be given instructions on how to care for them. How long you stay in the hospital is determined by the type of procedure you had. If you had implants inserted, you may stay for 1 to 2 days. If you did flap procedures, you may stay for between 5-6 days.

Follow-up care for breast procedures

You can expect some swelling, bruising, and soreness for 2-3 weeks following the procedure. You will be advised how to go about wound care, showering, and bathing.

Within 6-8 weeks after the surgery, most women can return to their normal activities. But it may still take several more weeks before you can do strenuous exercises. The new breast shape will gradually improve over the coming months.

Regular check-ups following the surgery are important but you also have to perform self-exams of your breast every month and also have an annual mammogram.


Know more

Would you like to understand what options are available for Breast Reconstruction in Dubai? Meet one of our experts at Al Shunnar Plastic Surgery for a personal consultation to develop a tailor-made plan for you. Contact us or Book an appointment and our patient care coordinators will identify the most suitable expert for you.