Serving patients from Salem, Roanoke and Cave Spring, VA
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Breast Reconstruction Procedures
There is nothing as rewarding to a cosmetic surgeon than being able to help someone whose body has been traumatized by illness or injury. With breast reconstruction, Dr. Carol A. Wray works closely with women from throughout Virginia who have lost all or part of a breast. She is well-known for the compassionate and experienced care she provides at her Salem, VA, office. As a result, breast reconstruction patients travel from Roanoke, Cave Spring and other Virginia locations to place themselves in her skilled hands. If you are interested in breast reconstruction, then please schedule a consultation today at The Center for Plastic Surgery at Ridgewood Hill.
What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is surgery to help restore a normal shape and size to the breast. This may be needed because of loss of the breast due to cancer or trauma or because of differences in size with development. The goal is to achieve as much balance and normalcy as possible.
What techniques are used in breast reconstruction?
When you undergo breast reconstruction with Dr. Wray in Salem, your procedure will fall into two main categories. One uses your own tissue, while the other inserts implants to build the breast volume.
How do I know what is best for me?
During your breast reconstruction consultation in Salem, Dr. Wray will evaluate you and review your options, which will depend on your medical history and physical exam. With more than 20 years of experience, Dr. Wray has helped breast reconstruction patients from across the region, including Salem, Roanoke and Cave Spring.
When she performs breast reconstruction on a patient, Dr. Wray uses the tissue expander/implant method, frequently implementing an acellular dermal graft. She also will sometimes take muscle from your back to help with the rebuilding procedure. However, she no longer does major breast reconstruction using abdominal tissue to form the breast mound.
When is the best time to have breast reconstruction?
The answer is simply "when you are ready." Patients who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer should have the opportunity to talk with a plastic surgeon about reconstruction. Some of Dr. Wray's breast reconstruction patients in Salem elect to start the procedure at the time they are having their mastectomies, whereas others opt to wait. This decision involves a lot of different factors, such as how you are able to handle more choices on top of those associated with your cancer care, whether you want to proceed with something that may require multiple surgeries, the extent of your cancer or other health problems. There are situations when it is best to postpone breast reconstruction until after the cancer has been treated.
Are there advantages to having reconstruction at the time of a mastectomy?
Patients who choose to undergo these procedures together have the benefit of avoiding at least one extra surgery. That's because these women are actually combining the first step of their breast reconstruction with the mastectomy. Another advantage is the fact that scar tissue has yet to form, so the skin will be more supple and there will probably be more of it to work with during breast reconstruction.
What are the advantages in delaying the reconstructive surgery?
When breast reconstruction is performed after your cancer therapy is completed, we have the advantage of knowing what treatment was used. Specifically, we will know if you needed radiation following the mastectomy, which will affect the ability of the skin to stretch for breast reconstruction. A physical exam will be administered once radiation is finished, helping us determine the best technique for the reconstruction. Also, if you postpone your breast reconstruction until after cancer treatment, you can be sure that any possible complications that arise from the surgery will not interfere with your therapy.
What is involved with a tissue expander breast reconstruction?
This kind of breast reconstruction is usually done in two steps. At the first surgery, a tissue expander is placed beneath the pectoralis muscle, which is the large muscle under the breast. Frequently, an acellular dermal graft is also used to help cover the expander below the muscle. An acellular dermal graft is a piece of skin that has had all living cells removed, so there is just a framework of the skin left. The patient is usually in the hospital overnight after the breast reconstruction.
A tissue expander is much like a water balloon, so once the skin is healed, it can be blown up slowly, allowing the skin to stretch over it. For about one to two months — during brief, periodic visits to Dr. Wray's office in Salem — the breast reconstruction patient will have saline added to the expander. Once the expander is stretched to the appropriate shape, the second operation is planned for about three months later. This outpatient surgery removes the expander and replaces it with an implant. Dr. Wray can also do any touch up that may be needed for balance or appearance.
Can a nipple be reconstructed?
Yes, the nipple/areola complex (the nipple and the dark skin around it) can be reconstructed. This is done in the office after everything has healed after the implant is placed. First, the bump to make a nipple is created, then the color is tattooed once the new nipple has healed.
Does anything need to be done to the breast without cancer?
To achieve better balance and appearance, sometimes breast reconstruction can be performed on a non-cancerous breast. Depending on what is needed, a lift, a reduction or even sometimes an augmentation is done to give better shape and symmetry with the reconstructed breast.
Is breast reconstruction covered by insurance?
Most insurance policies will cover breast reconstruction if it is done because of loss of a breast due to cancer. Private insurance also covers the procedure on the other breast, if needed, to achieve symmetry. You should check with your insurance provider to know exactly what coverage you have.
For more information about breast reconstruction in Virginia:
The professionals at The Center for Plastic Surgery and MediSpa are always available to answer any questions regarding our breast reconstruction procedures. We welcome patients from across the region, including Salem, Roanoke and Cave Spring. Please give us a call at 540-444-4343 to schedule a consultation. You can also schedule a consultation online by clicking here: Schedule a Consultation Online for a Breast Reconstruction.