Breast reconstruction surgery has advanced in recent years, offering a wider range of procedures to restore breasts. As a breast cancer survivor, you have decisions to make about what you want, and what surgical procedure will be most appropriate. To help you make an educated decision, we urge you to find out all you can about the various options in breast reconstruction. We invite you to meet with us for a consultation with our breast reconstruction surgeon, Dr. Pablo Prichard, a premier breast reconstruction surgeon serving the Phoenix area and beyond.
What is Natural Tissue Breast Reconstruction?
There is no more acceptable tissue for your body than your own. In natural tissue breast reconstruction, (also called “autogenous reconstruction” or “autologous reconstruction” or free flap breast reconstruction) tissue is harvested from a specific area of your own body, whether lower belly, buttocks, thigh, or back, taking skin, fat, and muscle. This harvested tissue is then placed, and shaped to create a new breast.
The procedure involves reattaching arteries and veins in the tissue to the blood vessels beneath your arms, or under the breastbone. The nipple replacement will be performed after healing from the surgery, in a far less extensive – but very important – procedure. If the tissue is harvested from your upper back or tummy area, it does not require being reattached to your blood supply through the arteries and veins under the arms or breastbone, as the veins and arteries remain connected to the tissue which is moved by tunneling under the skin, and then reshaped to appear natural.
What is Flap Breast Reconstruction?
When making a decision about breast reconstruction, it is important to understand the various medical terms used to describe each procedure. Flap breast reconstruction is the name for several procedures, including fat grafting breast reconstruction. The different types of flap reconstruction procedures are:
- TRAM: (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap): This “flap reconstruction” procedure involves harvesting skin, fat, and muscle from the lower belly area while keeping veins and arteries attached. The tissue is then tunneled under your skin to be placed on the chest to rebuild your breast. In some cases, a “free flap” TRAM procedure is used, in which the tissue is cut and freed from the abdomen, and the veins and arteries reattached to the blood vessels located under your arm or under your breastbone.
- Latissimus Muscle Flap: The tissue, including skin, fat, and muscle is removed from the back, keeping the blood vessels intact and functioning, tunneled under the skin, and shaped into a new breast.
- DIEP or DIEAP Flap: This procedure involves removing skin and fat from the lower belly, which is then placed to restore the breast tissue. The veins and arteries are cut and reattached under the arm, or under the breast bone for blood flow to the newly placed tissue.
- Gluteal Flap: This procedure involves harvesting skin, fat, and in some cases, muscle, from the buttocks. The harvested tissue is then placed to create a new breast, with the arteries and veins attached under the arms or under the breastbone.
- TUG Flap: In this flap procedure, the harvested skin, fat and muscle is taken from the thigh area and then placed and shaped to create a new breast, with veins and arteries reattached under the arms or under the breastbone.
Breast Reconstruction: Your Options
As a woman who needs breast reconstruction, you have several options in the use of your own natural tissue during free flap breast reconstruction. The location from which the tissue is harvested, the method by which the tissue is placed vary from procedure to procedure – what is right for you? You deserve to have all of the information, and all of the options that can achieve the natural look you want. Every person is different in what can be successfully performed, and you can trust us to be open, caring, and to be committed to excellence in every procedure we perform.
In a private consultation with Dr. Prichard, a leading breast reconstruction surgeon in Phoenix, your options can be discussed, and you can get the personal guidance on this important matter from a surgeon who deeply cares about his patients. Every one of the professionals at his practice is committed to serving breast cancer survivors with the compassion and care they deserve.