Breast Reconstruction in Nashville
Losing a breast is a difficult experience, but it does not have to be permanent. If you have lost a breast to cancer or other causes, breast reconstruction in Nashville may provide a way to restore your look and help you regain confidence in your body and your self.
Dr. Patrick Maxwell is a pioneer and world leader in the field of breast reconstruction. He has worked for years with patients and patient support groups as an advocate for offering them the choice of breast reconstruction. He has worked with general surgeons , oncologic breast surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation therapists in creating a team approach to individualized breast care. He has developed the devices, the operations, and the concepts that comprise “Oncoplastic Breast Surgery” as a means of improving patient outcomes. Needless to say, he has years of experience in performing some of today’s most challenging breast reconstruction procedures.
Many women may need a mastectomy because they have been diagnosed with breast cancer or are at a very high risk of developing breast cancer. Often, the treatment for breast cancer requires the removal of one or both of the breast mounds. While this procedure can be life-saving, for many women it comes with a high price. An important part of the road to recovery, and an option suitable for many mastectomy patients, is breast reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that attempts to restore the natural shape and appearance of breasts that have undergone mastectomy. The procedure may deal with one or both breast mounds, depending on the specifics of the mastectomy. One of the most important aspects of breast reconstruction is that the procedure is highly individualized to meet the needs and concerns of the patient.
The results of the procedure are variable. Reconstructed breasts will not feel the same as the natural breast, and there will be visible surgical marks. Ideally, candidates for breast reconstruction should be in a good place with their diagnosis and treatment. They should not have additional medical issues that may complicate healing. It is also critical for patients to have realistic goals and a positive outlook on their body image.
One of the key considerations of breast reconstruction is the timing of the procedure. Generally, a procedure can begin at the same time as the mastectomy or may be delayed until after the patient recovers from breast cancer treatments.
There are a number of reasons why patients may choose one option over the other. Some may want to delay the procedure because they are not emotionally ready for reconstruction surgery, while others may want some of the options available for a procedure performed during the mastectomy. Breast reconstruction performed at the same time as a mastectomy can often yield results that appear more natural.
There are different techniques that are available for breast reconstruction. Often, in order to reconstruct the breast mound, a flap technique may be used. A flap technique uses the patient’s own muscle, fat, and skin from a donor area of the body to rebuild the breast. Available options may include the TRAM, DIEP, and SGAP flap techniques. The TRAM flap is one of the most common, where skin from the abdomen is taken and moved to the breast mound.
There are also techniques where tissue expanders are placed in the breast pockets to stretch the skin and make room for breast implants. Breast implants are often used in breast reconstruction in order to create the proper breast size and shape. Fat grafting and other specialized techniques may be used to add size to the breast or rebuild the nipple and areola.
The technique used will vary depending on a number of factors, such as patient preference, the amount of available tissue in a donor area, and the elasticity of the patient’s skin.
Breast Reconstruction Can:
- Maintain a natural appearing breast despite mastectomy via immediate breast reconstruction
- Restore a natural look and feel to breasts removed due to cancer or damaged by radiation or injury.
- Reshape breasts that have an abnormal or unflattering shape due to genetics
- Enhance confidence in your appearance, your body, and your self esteem
Planning Your Procedure
In his consultations for breast reconstruction in Nashville, Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Unger and Dr. Amaka offer a personalized understanding of each patient’s unique situation, cancer treatment needs, and personal desires. Careful planning and a custom-tailored surgical approach are Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Unger and Dr. Amaka’s hallmarks. A natural look and feel is absolutely essential for good results, so Dr. Maxwell and Dr. Unger designs each procedure to ensure that your new shape will not only look and feel very natural, but also meet the goals that are most important to you personally.
He is a strong proponent of nipple-preserving mastectomy, which offers certain patients both cancer treatment and reconstruction via an approach more similar to breast augmentation or other breast aesthetic approaches, minimizing scars and enhancing outcomes.
Breast reconstruction can be immediate (performed at the same time as the mastectomy), delayed (performed weeks, months, or years following mastectomy) or revisional (correcting or improving another surgeon’s result which developed problems or did not meet expectations). Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Unger and Dr. Amaka carefully analyzes every individual patient’s unique history, including her type of cancer or “pre-cancer,” as well as her current breast size and shape, her lifestyle, and her desires before making a recommending a specific type and technique of breast reconstruction. As many of Dr. Maxwell’s patients come from far away to see him, this may also factor into some decisions.
Among the many reconstructive options Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Unger and Dr. Amaka recommends, some of the most frequent approaches include:
- Reconstruction Using Breast Implants: Today, every effort is made to minimize incisions (scars) as well as the extent of the surgery itself. Two-stage Tissue Expander / Implant breast reconstruction entails 2 relatively straightforward procedures. The first (if performed at the time of the mastectomy) has a 1 or 2-day hospital stay. The second, performed several months later, is an outpatient procedure.Dr. Maxwell has developed his specific process, “Biodimensional Reconstruction,” over years of research and private practice. He invented the Natrelle Tissue Expander, which is filled with saline and inserted at the time of the mastectomy, and designed the Natrelle silicone gel implants used in the second procedure . Dr. Maxwell may select the 410, “Tear Drop”, or “Gummy Bear” implant as the replacement implant due to its natural-appearing result. Dr. Maxwell may also utilize a dermal regenerative material and in some cases fat grafting to further enhance the patient’s result. These combined techniques have distinguished Dr. Maxwell as “The Leader in Breast Reconstruction” over the last two decades (as detailed in Plastic Surgery Practice Magazine, October 2007).
- “Flap” Reconstruction: Dr. Maxwell helped pioneer microsurgery, as well as the latissimus flap and TRAM flap procedures. Highly skilled and experienced in these more invasive procedures, he may suggest one of these operations as a “fit” for your breast reconstruction. These procedures reconstruct the breast mound using the patient’s own muscle and tissue. Typically, this tissue is taken from the abdominal area, offering some of the benefits of a tummy tuck along with breast augmentation.
- Nipple-sparing mastectomy. Working with oncologic breast surgeon experts, Dr. Maxwell is a strong advocate of the “Oncoplastic Approach” to breast reconstruction. Frequently, a patient’s nipples can be preserved (as well as the breast skin) even while treating breast cancer with mastectomy. The minimal incisions used for this are the same as for aesthetic breast procedures. Scars can frequently be hidden in the breast crease, and the reconstructed breast result looks and feels very natural, similar to the result of a cosmetic breast augmentation or augmentation / mastopexy (breast lift).
- Revision breast reconstruction. Dr. Maxwell is an expert in revising unsatisfactory results from previously performed reconstructions, whether resulting from radiation, scarring, healing problems, or other causes. As these procedures must be carefully individualized, breast revision may involve a combination of some of the previously described techniques. Dr. Maxwell will carefully analyze your situation and recommend treatment options.
When you plan your breast reconstruction with Nashville breast augmentation specialist Dr. Maxwell, he will explain his approach thoroughly and outline what you can expect in terms of healing and recovery.
Breast Reconstruction Surgery and Results
Depending on the approach you choose, Dr. Maxwell, Dr. Unger and Dr. Amaka and their extensively trained staff may meet with you before both your initial and follow-up procedure to review your goals and make any necessary adjustments to your procedure plan. Breast reconstruction is performed with the help of a highly trained surgical team to ensure a safe, accurate procedure and appropriate pre- and postsurgical care.
Surgery typically takes two to three hours, though flap approaches often require more time. Scarring is typically very minimal, and patients may get back to work and light exercise within two to four weeks of surgery.