Breast Reconstruction



Breast Reconstruction Houston TX

Losing one or both breasts to cancer can be a traumatic experience. Breast reconstruction surgery rebuilds the female breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy so that women who have survived cancer can feel whole again. During reconstructive breast surgery, plastic surgeons use artificial breast implants or autologous techniques (natural tissue) to build natural-looking breasts. Many women who receive this restorative and transformative procedure say that they feel way better – both physically and emotionally, with a much improved quality of life.

Houston, TX plastic surgeon Dr. Christian Arroyo offers state of the art reconstructive breast surgery to women from his Houston and West Houston backyard, as well as surrounding Texas cities of Bellaire, Jacinto City, Galena Park, Pasadena, Cloverleaf, Aldine, the Woodlands, and more. He performs this procedure with the goal of giving women who have faced the trial of cancer a higher quality of life. Dr. Arroyo understands that the needs of different women are unique and goes out of his way to create an individualized treatment plan for each patient. More so, the surgeon utilizes the most advanced surgical techniques available to achieve the desired breast reconstruction goals while minimizing the occurrence of scarring and other side effects.

Breast Reconstruction Candidates: Is it for me?

Breast reconstruction is a procedure to restore the look and feel of the female breasts following a lumpectomy or mastectomy. You may be a good candidate for reconstruction breast surgery 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 your first Houston breast reconstruction consultation at Dr. Arroyo’s office, you will have an unhurried customized experience, where the surgeon will take his time to listen to your concerns, examine your breasts, and let you know which procedure is right for you. 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, one in which you will leave feeling supremely confident about the reconstruction plan.

Types of Breast Reconstruction

Dr. Arroyo has a variety of breast reconstruction procedure options that he can use to suit the needs of different patients.

Implant 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 at a later date. Dr. Arroyo specializes in various types of 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 borrowed from other parts of their own bodies to rebuild their new breasts. The donor tissue is usually harvested from donor areas such as the abdomen and thighs, and transplanted to the chest in order to form the new breast tissue. This technique is also referred to as autologous breast reconstruction. It is recommended for women who are unwilling to use artificial implants, and who have enough donor tissue in their body. Dr. Arroyo specializes in a number of autologous breast reconstruction options:

  • DIEP Flap – this technique uses a flap of tissue (skin, fat and blood vessels) borrowed from the lower abdomen to form the new breast tissue. This is a highly complex procedure that requires expertise in microsurgery (because the surgeon has to reconnect the blood vessels of the donor tissue to the chest blood supply). The main advantage of this type of breast reconstruction is that it does not touch the abdominal muscle. This leads to a faster recovery with less morbidity in the donor site. Patients who undergo this procedure also receive the benefits of a tummy tuck. Keep in mind though that you need to have enough donor tissue in the abdominal region in order to qualify for a DIEP flap.
  • TRAM Flap – Dr. Arroyo no longer uses this technique, because it is inferior to the DIEP . A section of the abdominal muscle is taken along with fat, skin, and blood supply and used to form the new breast. The need to cut through muscle makes TRAM a harsher technique than DIEP and requires longer recovery time.
  • 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 region.
  • 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 that is located in the back below the shoulder and behind the armpit. An oval portion containing skin, fat, muscle, and the connected blood supply will be used to rebuild the breast.

In addition to these autologous techniques, Dr. Arroyo may also use fat grafting to achieve the goals of the reconstruction. This entails using fat tissue taken from elsewhere in the body through the process of liposuction to rebuild and more meticulously reshape breasts after the initial reconstruction. During one of your pre-op consultations, the surgeon will discuss all these breast reconstruction surgery options before creating a treatment plan that works best for you.

Recovery after Breast Reconstruction

Once Dr. Arroyo has rebuilt your natural-looking breasts, you may need to stay in the hospital for a night so that the surgeon’s team can closely monitor you. It is important to have someone to drive you home as well as help out with basic chores over the first few days. The duration of recovery may vary from one patient to the other depending on the specific procedure performed, and one’s unique healing ability. 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 are able to resume light activities within 2-4 weeks. However, the surgeon will ask that you avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise until you get the go-ahead from him, typically after 6-8 weeks. It is very important that you adhere to Dr. Arroyo’s post-op instructions in order to ensure a speedy and uninterrupted recovery.

Plan Your Breast Reconstruction
Procedure in Houston, Texas

Dr. Christian Arroyo performs breast reconstruction surgery at an accredited medical facility, supported by highly qualified nursing staff. The cost of breast reconstruction in Houston, Texas 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.

Breast Reconstruction Houston FAQ

Will my new breasts have sensation?

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

Will my nipple be reconstructed?

Nipple and areola reconstruction typically requires another procedure after breast reconstruction. The surgeon will use skin from the rebuilt breast, along with 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. Keep in mind that 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.