Breast Cancer Reconstruction
Implant or Free Tissue Transfer
Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy can be a difficult decision for women to make. There are many options available to suit each individual person tailored to womens needs. Broadly speaking reconstruction involves Implants or using patients own skin and fat also known a free flap.
Free Flap Surgery
Free tissue transfer is the transfer of patients own block of tissue with a blood vessel to an area of the body where new tissue is required. The blood vessel of the block of tissue is attached to a new blood supply to keep the tissue alive. The technique requires microsurgery where tiny blood vessels are re attached with thread or suture thinner than the human hair. For breast reconstruction, the block of tissue can be fat and skin from the tummy being transferred to the chest to sculpt and reconstruct a breast (see below)
The most common free flap is a DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator flap)
There are other areas that can be taken e.g. PAP (Thigh) flap or Lumbar (back/ love handle) flap.
Length of Procedure
3-8 hrs, depending on whether one side or both sides are reconstructed and type of flap.
Length of Hospital Stay
Flap failure or partial flap failure 1%, infection, bleeding scarring, pain. numbness, fluid accumulation (seroma) assymentry
Recommended Time Off
6-12 weeks depending on the nature of surgery and the individual
Implant Based Reconstruction
Sometimes ladies may not have enough fat to reconstruct a new breast. In these situations they may opt to use implants to create a breast.
It is important to have an in depth conversation with your surgeon to see what option is suitable for you.