Whether as a follow up to surgery or for other breast health issues, breast reconstruction is a vastly growing field and an important element of the plastic surgery offering at El Camino Hospital. For many women, breast reconstruction symbolizes the return to wellness at the end of the cancer journey: an opportunity for a woman to finally "feel like herself again." We are committed to being on the forefront of new advancements in breast reconstruction as an important element of our comprehensive services, ranging from breast health education and cancer prevention to state-of-the-art diagnostics and leading-edge treatments.
What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction refers to a variety of plastic surgery procedures to restore the breast's shape, appearance, or symmetry following medically indicated mastectomy or lumpectomy. Since congress passed the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act in 1998, breast reconstruction is usually a covered benefit for all health insurances. Breast reconstruction is an empowering option for women seeking to restore their body image after breast surgery. Breast reconstruction is a personal choice. It’s important to speak with your physician or a reconstructive surgeon to discuss your options, as not all women are a candidate for breast reconstruction surgery. Surprisingly, nearly 70% of women who are eligible for the surgery are not aware of all their options. Many women go for years without knowing about advanced reconstructive procedures that could enhance their self-image and sense of wellbeing.
Reconstructive breast surgery is typically performed in stages. Although a woman can choose to begin reconstruction at any time, the best results are achieved at the time of mastectomy. However, here at El Camino Hospital, our breast reconstruction experts have also operated on patients who have waited as long as 20 years to have this life-changing surgery. These women have come to the right place: Our offering includes surgeons well versed in all the latest surgical techniques and procedures, from prophylactic mastectomies to sophisticated reconstructive techniques. The amazing results they achieve would not have been possible even a few years ago.
Advances in Breast Reconstruction
Recent years have seen the emergence of "oncoplastic" surgery, a new specialty that combines oncology and plastic surgery. Today's advanced approaches to breast reconstruction provide women with less invasive options, better scar placement, and improved cosmetic results. At the same time, breast cancer treatment is evolving in ways that help facilitate reconstruction.
- New techniques are being used for the initial mastectomy to facilitate later reconstruction and reduce scarring
- Fewer lymph nodes are removed to check for cancer's spread, reducing the incidence of lymphedema
- Skin and nipples are increasingly being saved during cancer surgery so they can be used for more natural reconstruction
- Advances in implant technology yield a more natural appearance and improved performance characteristics
- Single stage reconstruction can be completed in just one surgery for both mastectomy and breast reconstruction
- Newer wound healing technologies result in improved scarring and fewer complications