Breast Reconstruction Specialist

Advanced Plastic Surgery Center

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons located in DC area, Arlington, VA

The goal of breast reconstruction is to restore the shape, appearance, symmetry, and size of the breast. At Advanced Plastic Surgery Center in Arlington, Virginia, the team of expert providers offers reformative surgery to women following a mastectomy or lumpectomy, or to address congenital deformities. To learn about the variety of reconstructive options available, call the office or schedule a consultation.

Breast Reconstruction Q & A

What is breast reconstruction?

You may seek breast reconstruction surgery if you’ve undergone a mastectomy or other breast surgery due to cancer or another disease. Women born with irregularities of the chest or breast also benefit from breast reconstruction. You undergo a complete consultation to review your reconstructive options and find a procedure that best meets your aesthetic goals.

What options for breast reconstruction are available?

The two main categories of breast reconstruction are implant-based and autologous, or flap, reconstruction. Implant-based, as the name suggests, involves the insertion of a breast implant to reshape your look.

Autologous reconstruction uses your own tissue to reconstruct the breast. The tissue may be skin, fat, and sometimes muscle that usually comes from the belly, back, buttocks, or inner thighs to reconstruct the breast. The most common autologous breast reconstruction performed at Advanced Plastic Surgery Center is the DIEP Flap or Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator Flap which transplants excess skin and fat from the abdomen to the chest to reconstruct the breast.

The type of breast reconstruction that’s best for you depends on your health, breast shape, breast size, and desired look.

What breast reconstruction technique is best for me?

Both implant-based and autologous techniques have their advantages and disadvantages, and depending on your cancer treatment and goals, one technique may be preferred over another. For example, implant-based reconstruction requires a shorter recovery time versus autologous reconstruction, but may not be suitable in all patients undergoing post-mastectomy radiation.

During your consultation with Dr. Economides, your medical history and cancer treatment plan will be reviewed taking into consideration the need for adjuvant therapies such as post-mastectomy radiation or post-lumpectomy radiation. In addition, potential flap donor sites will be examined to determine suitability for autologous reconstruction.

What happens to the non-reconstructed breast?

Even if just one breast was affected by mastectomy you may elect to have both breasts reconstructed to have asymmetrical look. With the passage of the 1998 Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), insurance companies are required to cover the reconstruction of the affected breast, but also surgery to reconstruct or improve symmetry of the non-affected breast. 

In women who undergo unilateral (one side) breast reconstruction, combining a procedure on the opposite breast can improve the symmetry of both. 

These procedures may include complete reconstruction with the same or different technique as the affected breast, a breast lift or breast reduction to match the size and position of the other breast, implant augmentation to match the size of the other breast or fat grafting/fat transfer to match the size and shape of the other breast.

How long does it take to recover from breast reconstruction surgery?

After surgery, the team at Advanced Plastic Surgery Center applies bandages and/or gauze to your incisions. You may have a small tube temporarily placed to drain excess fluid and blood.

The team has you wear an elastic bandage or support bra to minimize swelling and support the reconstructed area. They also provide you with information about how to care for the surgical site and when you can resume normal activity. You need to schedule some downtime following breast reconstructive surgery.

Who is a candidate for breast reconstruction?

Women who’ve undergone treatment for cancer or have a congenital defect are candidates for breast reconstruction. You’re a candidate if don’t have any existing medical conditions that preclude healing.

You should also recognize that breast reconstruction may not leave the reconstructed breast with the same sensation as it had before surgery or as your other breast. You may also have visible scars on the reconstructed breast as well as any sites from which tissue was obtained for reconstruction.

If you’re in need of breast reconstruction surgery, trust the expert team at Advanced Plastic Surgery Center. Call today or schedule an appointment using the online tool. 

What is the timeline for breast reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction may be performed at any time following a mastectomy or lumpectomy and may even be performed at the same time as the initial mastectomy or lumpectomy, thus minimizing the number of surgeries required. With advances in tissue perfusion imaging technology, it is also sometimes possible to perform “direct-to-implant” reconstruction in select patients, allowing for a single surgery for both mastectomy and definitive reconstruction. 

What is the reconstruction following a lumpectomy like?

Breast reconstruction does not necessarily have to require complete removal of the breast (mastectomy). In some patients pursuing breast conservation therapy (BCT) also known as lumpectomy, an oncoplastic reconstruction may be beneficial. 

Following lumpectomy, patients may notice a contour irregularity or divot where the cancerous tissue was removed. Dr. Economides has pioneered techniques in the oncoplastic reconstruction which reshape the breast tissue to provide for a more harmonious appearance. Oncoplastic reconstruction may be performed at the time of the initial lumpectomy or in a separate operative setting.