At Lawrence Plastic Surgery, we have been performing breast reconstruction following partial mastectomy and total mastectomy for over 20 years. We are constantly looking at new techniques and exploring the latest ideas to help you achieve a good long-term cosmetic result from your cancer operation. Our board certified plastic surgeon, working with a dedicated staff that includes a certified plastic surgery nurse, will work with you and your other doctors every step of the way. Please use this guide as a starting point to exploring your options. We’re here to help any way we can.
Many patients have breast cancer that can be effectively treated without removal of the entire breast. Your general surgeon removes the tumor, along with a margin of surrounding normal tissue, in an operation known as a partial mastectomy or lumpectomy. After a period of healing, this is often followed by radiation treatments to the affected breast.
The appearance of the breast following partial mastectomy and radiation can often be quite good, with the breast maintaining good shape and symmetry relative to the opposite breast. The shape and size of the breast before surgery, the location and size of the tumor and the response of the breast tissues to radiation all influence the cosmetic outcome of the surgery.
Plastic surgeons are sometimes involved in the care of partial mastectomy patients to improve their cosmetic outcome. In cases where the breast shape, tumor size, or tumor location creates difficulty in preserving the breast shape and symmetry you may be referred to our office for a consultation to discuss the correction of breast deformities following partial mastectomy.
When patients are seen months or years following their partial mastectomy and radiation, we have options available to either treat the affected breast or alter the opposite breast to achieve better symmetry. We generally like to wait 6 months or more after radiation is complete before performing these procedures. This allows the tissues of the treated breast to stabilize and allows us to better understand the degree of asymmetry present and what might be done to correct it.
Correction of defects following partial mastectomy and radiation
We often see patients months or years after their partial mastectomy and radiation for correction of asymmetry or breast defects related to their treatment. While we would be happy to see you at any time, we usually advise waiting for at least six months following your last radiation treatment before undergoing surgery to allow the tissues to recover and ensure the best possible healing.
Radiated breast tissue may not heal as well as normal tissue. Therefore, for some patients we may recommend treatment of the opposite breast as the most straightforward way of achieving symmetry. This often involves a breast lift or breast reduction, as shown below.
When the radiated breast shape is intact, but the overall size of the breast is small, we may suggest a breast implant be placed to bring the breasts to an equal size.
A relatively new technique for correcting defects caused by partial mastectomies is fat transfer. Fatty tissue is suctioned, usually from your abdomen, and injected into the breast to correct the deformity.
Procedures to correct defects following partial mastectomy typically can be performed on an outpatient basis and do not require hospitalization. Most of these procedures are covered by your insurance policy, but we will need to send a predetermination letter to your company prior to the procedure to confirm this. Recovery time following surgery varies depending on the procedure performed, ranging from a few days to 2-3 weeks.
We have used a variety of techniques over the years to help our partial mastectomy patients achieve better symmetry, sometimes combining techniques to achieve the best possible results. We look forward to working with you and your other physicians in any way we can to achieve a good long-term outcome following your breast cancer treatment.