Mastectomy & Immediate Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction aims to restore the shape and appearance of the breast following a mastectomy to treat breast cancer. It is a type of plastic surgery involving the use of implants, skin flaps or both to help achieve natural-looking breasts.
Dr. Ebanks has many years of experience in performing different types of mastectomies and at the Cayman Islands Surgery Center, we work together with plastic and reconstructive surgeons from around the world to offer immediate and delayed, oncoplastic breast reconstruction to all Grand Cayman residents and visitors, including patients previously treated in other clinics. Dr. Ebanks has been working with visiting plastic surgeon Dr. Barroso for many years and most recently she has had the pleasure to work with Dr. Anne Dancey, a highly trained plastic surgeon from the UK.
What Is a Mastectomy?
A mastectomy is the surgical removal of parts of or the entire breast. Surgeons perform this procedure to treat breast cancer or as a preventive measure in women at high risk for breast cancer. Every breast cancer diagnosis and patient is different, which is why there are many types of mastectomies:
A radical mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast along with the underlying muscles. It is the most extensive type of mastectomy only done when breast cancer has spread to the chest muscles.
During a partial mastectomy, only the cancerous part of the breast is removed, along with a small margin of surrounding tissue. This procedure is different from a lumpectomy, where the surgeon removes less tissue than with a partial mastectomy.
A double mastectomy, also called a bilateral mastectomy, is the removal of both breasts. It is usually recommended in women with a very high risk of breast cancer, for instance, those with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
A simple or total mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast, including breast tissue, skin, nipple and areola. Surgeons may also remove lymph nodes in the underarms to see if the cancer has spread.
During this procedure, the surgeon removes the breast tissue, nipple and areola, while breast skin is left intact. When appropriate, this technique can help create natural-looking breasts following breast reconstruction.
Also called a total-sparing mastectomy, the surgeon leaves the nipple and areola intact, as well as the skin. It is most suitable for women whose tumor is not located near the nipple or for prophylactic mastectomies.
At Cayman Islands Surgery Center, we understand that being told you need to undergo a mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis can lead to great anxiety. We also understand that this problem is compounded by the fact that women often tie their femininity to their breasts. Rest assured, our team will provide you with support in your decision-making process to help you get the best outcomes possible.
What Is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Breast reconstruction surgery aims to restore a more normal appearance to the breast after a mastectomy. It can help you feel more comfortable in clothing, and you won’t need to use a breast prosthesis.
Plastic surgeons can perform this procedure at the same time as your mastectomy or at a later date. Dr. Ebanks collaborates on complicated mastectomies with local or visiting surgeons where immediate reconstruction is needed. However, breast reconstruction is usually done in multiple steps.
Breast reconstruction is done for aesthetic reasons but also to help ease the emotional distress that can come with losing breast tissue. Dr. Ebanks works closely with experienced plastic surgeons and the patients are happy with their results when they leave Cayman Islands Surgery Center.
Two techniques that are frequently performed include:
The most common type of breast reconstruction, implant-based breast reconstruction involves many techniques and strategies that are individually tailored to each patient. As the name suggests, this technique uses medical implants to reconstruct the breast mound. Saline expanders are the most common type of first stage breast implant used in breast reconstruction worldwide, when the skin needs to be stretched, before the final silicon or saline implant can be inserted.
The surgeon uses tissue from another part of your body — often the belly or back — to form a new breast. This type of plastic surgery is more complex, riskier and requires a longer recovery time, but it may be necessary after extensive mastectomies or if the patient does not qualify for implant-based reconstruction. The plastic surgeon can harvest skin, fat and even muscle tissue from different areas of the body to recreate the natural look and feel of breasts.
These techniques restore the mound of the breast, while a separate procedure can reconstruct the nipple and areola. This can often involve a combination of skin grafting and special tattoo techniques.
Candidates for Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction
Although many women choose to have breast reconstruction surgery, the procedure may not be right for everyone. Ideal candidates for breast reconstruction are:
- Patients who can cope well with their diagnosis and treatment.
- Patients with realistic expectations and goals regarding their surgery.
- Women without medical conditions that impair healing.
Preparing for Surgery
The Cayman Islands Surgery Center team will help you prepare physically and mentally for your treatment. We will provide you with instructions on what to do in the days leading up to your surgery and what you will need to do after. We usually tell patients to:
- Undergo recommended lab tests and medical evaluation
- Cease smoking to reduce the risk of complications
- Stop taking blood-thinning medications and supplements
Because mastectomy and breast reconstruction are major surgeries, they are performed under general anesthesia and most will require an overnight hospital stay. Usually patients can leave the next day.
Request an Appointment With Dr. Ebanks
If you need a mastectomy , whether you are considering breast reconstruction post-mastectomy or not, contact Cayman Islands Surgery Center today. We understand that this decision can be difficult, but we offer our patients the utmost support as they explore their options for mastectomy surgery and breast reconstruction.
Dr. Tanja Ebanks works closely with breast and reconstructive surgeons locally and overseas. These relationships have helped her perfect effective and supportive breast surgery techniques to help women in the Cayman Islands and all over the world.
To learn more about Mastectomy and your breast reconstruction options at Cayman Islands Surgery Center, call our office today at +1 345 946 0067. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a staff member call you at a more convenient time. You can message Cayman Surgery directly at email@example.com
Do I need to have breast reconstructions?
Whether you should undergo breast reconstruction is entirely a personal choice. Although medical associations classify breast reconstruction as a medical necessity, not all women need to undergo this procedure. You get to decide what makes you feel most comfortable and confident.
Is breast reconstruction surgery safe?
Like all major surgeries, breast reconstruction comes with risks of bleeding, infection and adverse reactions to anesthesia. In addition, there is some risk of post-surgical complications, like capsular contracture if an implant is used. As far as the risk of breast cancer after implant or flap surgery is concerned, there is no evidence that reconstruction increases your risk of future cancer.
What is the ideal timing for breast reconstruction?
Whether you should have immediate or delayed breast reconstruction depends on your breast cancer stage, overall health and whether you are mentally prepared to undergo multiple procedures at once. We may also suggest delaying your breast reconstruction if you need to undergo radiation or chemotherapy following your mastectomy.
Can I get implants if undergoing radiation or chemotherapy?
The skin of the breasts is severely compromised following a mastectomy, which can impact how well your body reacts to breast reconstruction. Receiving chemotherapy or radiation can complicate matters further. For all these reasons, we often recommend delaying breast reconstruction until your skin and body have healed.
Will insurance cover breast reconstruction in the Cayman Islands?
Yes, most insurance companies cover breast reconstruction in women who need this procedure after having a mastectomy. If a patient qualifies for and chooses a double mastectomy, then the prophylactic contralateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction is usually also covered.Most insurance companies will even pay years later for a reconstruction if mastectomy was necessary at some point in the past.