Breast Reconstruction using Your Own Body Tissue
Breast reconstruction using your own body tissue is known as autologous tissue reconstruction or a flap surgery. Tissue may be obtained from your abdomen, back, buttocks, or thighs. The flap procedures may be classified as:
- Pedicle Flap Procedure for Breast Reconstruction: During this procedure, the tissue from the donor site is tunnelled under the skin to the chest area without cutting the blood vessels supplying the donor tissue. This procedure can be used when transferring tissue from the abdomen and back for breast reconstruction.
- Free Flap Procedure for Breast Reconstruction: During this procedure, the tissue is completely severed from the donor site and moved to the chest area. The blood vessels are then reattached to the tissue. This procedure can be used when transferring tissue from the buttocks and thighs for breast reconstruction.
Advantages and Disadvantages of using Tissue Flaps for Breast Reconstruction
Tissue flaps look and behave like natural tissue. They may shrink or enlarge as you lose or gain weight and there is no danger of implant rupture.
However, flap surgeries take longer to perform, leave 2 surgical scars, may cause donor site problems, and the procedure may not be suitable if you have vascular disease (poor circulation).
Postoperative Care after Breast Reconstruction
Following surgery, your doctor will give you instructions on caring for your surgical wound, drains and dressings. You will also be taught specific exercises to prevent stiffness and scar tissue formation. It usually takes six weeks to recover from breast implant surgery performed along with mastectomy or lumpectomy. For delayed implant surgery, the tissue expander is exchanged for the final implant during an inpatient procedure performed under general anaesthesia and requires a 2-week recovery period.
Risks and Complications of Breast Reconstruction
As with any surgery, breast reconstruction may be associated with certain complications such as:
- Scar tissue formation
- Capsular contracture
- Tissue break down
- Shifting or rupture of the implant