Breast reconstruction surgery rebuilds the female breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy so that women who have survived cancer can feel whole again. Plastic surgeons use artificial breast implants or autologous techniques (natural tissue) to build natural-looking breasts during reconstructive breast surgery. Many women who receive this restorative and transformative procedure say that they feel way better – both physically and emotionally.

Your Breast Reconstruction Consultation

At your consultation with Dr. Arroyo, he will determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. You may be a good candidate if:

  • You are cancer-free or would like to undergo breast reconstruction in tandem with your mastectomy.
  • You have coped with cancer therapy and mastectomy well
  • You do not have serious chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension
  • You do not smoke – or are willing to quit smoking in readiness for the surgery
  • You wish to restore the shape and size of your breasts
  • You clearly understand the risks as well as rewards of this procedure
  • You have realistic expectations about the outcome of your breast reconstruction

During the consultation at Dr. Arroyo’s office, he will take his time to listen to your concerns, examine your breasts, and offer a treatment plan to address your needs. Dr. Arroyo knows that battling a cancer diagnosis is hard enough and goes out of his way to create a supportive environment for your reconstruction procedure.

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Implant Based Breast Reconstruction

This is one of the most common breast reconstruction techniques. Plastic surgeons use artificial implants to build a new breast shape. For some women, the implant will be inserted during the mastectomy in what is referred to as an immediate reconstruction.

In some other cases, especially when there is not enough tissue, the surgeon will insert a temporary tissue expander at the same time as the mastectomy and then place the breast implant later.

Dr. Arroyo specializes in various implant breast reconstruction methodologies, including direct-to-implant, acellular dermal matrix, and expander implant procedure.

Natural Tissue Flap Reconstruction

Nowadays, many women prefer to use natural body tissue to rebuild their new breasts. The donor tissue is usually harvested from areas such as their abdomen and thighs and transplanted to the chest to form the new breast tissue. This technique is also referred to as autologous breast reconstruction. Dr. Arroyo specializes in several autologous breast reconstruction options:

DIEP Flap

DIEP Flap uses tissue borrowed from the lower abdomen to form the new breast tissue. This is a highly complex procedure that requires expertise in microsurgery. This type of breast reconstruction does not touch the abdominal muscle, leading to faster recovery with less morbidity in the donor site. Patients who undergo this procedure also receive the benefits of a tummy tuck. 

GAP Flap

This technique uses donor tissue from the buttock region to recreate the breast. GAP flap reconstruction is suitable for women who do not have enough donor tissue in the abdominal area. As tissue is used from the buttock, patients who undergo this procedure also receive the benefits of a more firm, and shapely backside.

PAP Flap

In this type of autologous reconstruction surgery, donor tissue (blood vessels, skin, and fat) is taken from the thigh region and used to form the new breast mound. This technique is particularly suitable for women who have small breasts.

Latissimus Dorsi Flap

Donor tissue is taken from the Latissimus Dorsi muscle located in the back below the shoulder and behind the armpit. An oval portion containing skin, fat, muscle, and the connected blood supply will rebuild the breast.

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Recovery After Breast Reconstruction

Once Dr. Arroyo has rebuilt your breasts, you may need to stay in the hospital for a night so that the surgeon’s team can closely monitor you. The recovery varies depending on the specific procedure performed. Most patients experience a dull ache over the first few days after surgery. Dr. Arroyo will provide prescription medication to help increase your comfort level throughout recovery. You will also be required to wear a special bra that helps support healing. The majority of patients can resume light activities within 2-4 weeks. You will need to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise until you get the go-ahead from Dr. Arroyo, typically after 6-8 weeks. It is essential to follow his post-op instructions to ensure a speedy and uninterrupted recovery.

Breast Reconstruction FAQ

Will my new breasts have sensation?

Will my nippe be reconstructed?

Autologous vs implant-based reconstruction

What are the costs of the procedure?

Will my new breasts have sensation?

The goal of reconstruction breast plastic surgery after breast cancer is to create symmetrical, soft breasts. Although some of the nerves are severed during the mastectomy, plastic surgeons can reconnect many of these using microsurgeries. It may take up to 6 months for nerves to grow back and restore normal sensation.

Will my nippe be reconstructed?

Nipple and areola reconstruction typically requires another procedure after breast reconstruction. The surgeon will use skin from the rebuilt breast and techniques such as 3D tattooing from a nipple tattoo artist to achieve a realistic-looking nipple-areola complex. This surgery is less invasive than breast reconstruction and can be performed within a very short time.

Autologous vs implant-based reconstruction

Autologous breast reconstruction is a highly complex surgery that results in larger incisions and takes longer to heal. On the pro side, this type of reconstruction results in a more natural, permanent outcome. Thin women who do not have enough donor tissue may not benefit from this technique. Implant-based breast reconstruction is more common and requires smaller incisions with less recovery time. Because implants are foreign to the body, this type of reconstruction carries a small risk of complications such as capsular contracture, implant rupture, infection, and rippling.

What are the costs of the procedure?

The cost of breast reconstruction, is paid for by insurance. The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires health insurers to cover the cost of mastectomy and reconstructive procedures.

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