Breast reconstruction with the use of tissue expanders – silicone implants is probably the most widely used surgical method of breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
Reconstruction is completed in 2 stages.
During the operation or in delayed treatments (women who have already undergone a mastectomy), a tissue expander is placed in the muscles (pectoralis major chest muscle, serratus anterior muscle, rectus abdominus muscle) in order to achieve full muscle coverage (ie the tissue expander to be fully covered by the muscles).
This is very important because it reduces or nearly eliminates the risk of complications from infection due to the very good perfusion of muscles. Furthermore if the reconstruction is performed in the same time with mastectomy, then the patient can complete all stages of the treatment (chemotherapy - Radiation) every 10-15 days. The tissue expander gets expanded by the use of saline which is inserted in the expander through a special valve and we the use of a very small needle.
The whole process is painless and is performed in the doctor’s office until we reach the desired volume.
Once the dilatation is completed we replace the tissue expander with a permanent silicone implant.
At the same time we perform simulation to the other breast (lifting, reduction or implant placing) in order to achieve uniformity and symmetry between the two breasts.
The simulation process can be performed during the 1st or 2nd stage of reconstruction depending on the patient’s will.
Second stage is usually performed 3-6 months after the placement of the tissue expander.
During 2nd stage we remove the tissue expander and replace it with a permanent silicone implant.
Nowadays silicone implants used for breast reconstruction are anatomical and in comparison to the round silicone implants they provide a more natural result.
At the same time we perform simulation of the other breast.
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and it lasts 1-2 hours depending on the case. The patient leaves from the hospital the same day wearing a special bra.
There is no sutures removal as they are absorbable.
The patient gains full activity from the very next day, though it is advisable to avoid intense workout and fatigue for 10-15 days.
He can return to work after 5-10 days.