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Other Surgical Procedures Related to Breast Reconstruction

Oct 16, 2007
Whether you have a breast implant or a tissue flap reconstruction, the following surgical procedures may be options for you in completing your breast reconstruction.

Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
The nipple is often removed with the breast tissue during mastectomy in case it contains cancer cells. Your nipple can be reconstructed using a small skin graft or by taking part of the nipple from the opposite breast. The dark circle around your nipple (the areola) may be reconstructed with a skin graft, or by tattooing the area to match the areola of the opposite breast. Nipple and areola reconstruction is usually done as a separate, outpatient procedure after the initial reconstruction surgery is complete.

Improving Symmetry: Mastopexy, Reduction Mammaplasty, or Augmentation Mammaplasty
In one-sided (unilateral) breast reconstruction, it may be difficult for the surgeon to exactly match the remaining breast, particularly if you have large breasts or if your breasts have sagged with age or from bearing children. In order to help improve symmetry between your natural and reconstructed breasts, your plastic surgeon may suggest a breast lift (mastopexy), breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty), or breast enlargement (augmentation mammaplasty) to the remaining breast.

If it is important to you not to alter the unaffected breast, you should discuss this with your plastic surgeon, as it may affect the breast reconstruction methods considered for your case.

Mastopexy
The skin of the breast stretches over time and with pregnancy, causing the breast to droop or sag. Mastopexy, or breast lift, is done by surgically tightening the skin around the breast. The surgeon removes a strip of skin from under the breast or from around the nipple, lifting and tightening the remaining breast skin.

Reduction Mammaplasty
Your plastic surgeon may recommend that you consider reducing the size of your unaffected breast to improve the symmetry between your natural and reconstructed breasts. Reduction mammaplasty is similar to mastopexy, but the surgeon removes breast tissue as well as skin.

Augmentation Mammaplasty
You may choose to have the size of your natural breast augmented (increased) with a saline-filled breast implant to help achieve symmetry between your natural and reconstructed breast.

The type of breast reconstruction procedure available to you depends on your medical situation, your breast shape and size, your general health and lifestyle, and your goals. Every woman's situation is unique. Breast reconstruction can be accomplished by the use of a prosthesis (a breast implant) or your own tissues (a tissue flap).
About the Author
Dave Stringham is the President of LookingYourBest.com an online resource for plastic surgery procedures. Learn more about breast reconstruction and other plastic surgery procedures.
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