Breast Cancer Reconstruction

Surgical treatment of breast cancer consists of lumpectomy, partial mastectomy or mastectomy. Lumpectomy and partial mastectomy involve surgical removal of the breast tumor and some surrounding normal breast tissue, usually followed by radiation therapy to treat any microscopic cancer cells potentially left behind. Mastectomy removes the entire breast, including the nipple and areola (surrounding pigmented skin) and all breast tissue down to the pectoralis muscle, leaving the breast skin behind. These surgical procedures result in a significant deformity with breast disfigurement and asymmetry.

Breast reconstruction procedures are designed to reconstruct the deformities caused by breast cancer surgery. The goal of breast reconstruction is to restore natural breast shape, size and texture, and to restore overall breast symmetry. In order to be successful, these procedures require a great deal of surgical precision, artistic planning and a thorough understanding of the three-dimensional effects of rearranging breast tissues. Such procedures are best performed by plastic surgeons with specialized training in advanced breast reconstruction techniques. Dr. Abhay Gupta is one such plastic surgeon.

It is important to note that breast reconstruction for cancer is NOT a form of cosmetic surgery. It is a medically indicated procedure to restore a natural breast that cancer treatment has taken away. There is no age limit for a patient to undergo breast reconstruction. Every breast cancer survivor is a candidate for breast reconstruction surgery, provided their cancer is adequately treated and they have no medical conditions that render the reconstructive surgery unsafe.

Video: Options Available for Breast Cancer Reconstruction

Dr. Abhay Gupta discusses the options available for reconstruction after a mastectomy.

On October 21, 1998, the “Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998’’ was signed into law. This law protects the rights of breast cancer survivors and mandates that insurance companies provide coverage for breast cancer reconstruction. The law states that “breast reconstruction surgery to correct breast deformities, as well as surgery on the contralateral breast to achieve symmetry, are considered reconstructive surgery and therefore, should be a covered benefit and reimbursed by third-party payers.” This is regardless of the amount of time that has passed between the mastectomy and the planned reconstruction.

There are many different techniques available for breast reconstruction following mastectomy. San Diego board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Abhay Gupta is very experienced in performing all types of reconstruction and has been specially trained to perform the most advanced procedures, including microsurgical procedures using the patient’s own tissue. The main types of breast reconstruction available to the breast cancer survivor are:

1)    Tissue Expander and Implant Reconstruction

2)    Latissimus Flap Reconstruction

3)    TRAM Flap and DIEP Flap Reconstruction

4)    Nipple-Areola Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction can be performed as either an “immediate” or a “delayed” procedure. As the term implies, immediate reconstruction is performed immediately following the mastectomy, while the patient is still under anesthesia. Once the general surgeon has completed the mastectomy, Dr. Gupta commences reconstructing the new breast. The main advantages of this approach are a shorter scar, preservation of most of the natural breast skin, and avoiding the disfiguring appearance of amastia (no breast).

In delayed reconstruction, Dr. Gupta commences the breast reconstruction several months following the mastectomy. This is usually the best treatment option for patients with advanced stage cancer and those who will need radiation therapy following their mastectomy.

It is important that patients discuss all treatment options with both their general surgeon and Dr. Gupta to determine the best treatment plan for their individual case. There are many different techniques available for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Dr. Gupta is well-trained and very experienced in performing all of these types of procedures, including the most advanced microsurgical procedures. After a full consultation and discussion of all of the options, Dr. Gupta will suggest the best reconstruction option to achieve the best, most natural long-term results with maximum patient safety.

Schedule a Consultation

Dr. Abhay Gupta is proud to help women regain their health and self-confidence through breast reconstruction surgery. To schedule a private consultation at his San Diego practice, call 858-621-6000.