Losing a breast to cancer has a profound emotional impact on women. The team at the Klinik am Rhein can perform a special breast reconstruction technique to recreate the removed breast.
It is best to discuss with the plastic surgeon whether this type of procedure would be suitable. In some cases, the reconstruction can be performed as soon as the breast has been removed; in other cases, the procedure is offered at a later time.
If post-operative radiotherapy is required, patients should ideally wait 6 to 12 months before undergoing breast reconstruction surgery. The medical aspects of possible radiation or chemotherapy must be taken into account in surgical reconstruction cases in order to minimise complications. Therefore, a specialist for plastic and aesthetic surgery should be involved in the patient’s treatment plan.
Depending on the condition of the patient’s skin and glands, the size of the original breast as well as the patient's own wishes, the patient and surgeon decide which reconstruction technique should be used. Essentially, the options are using the patient’s own tissue or inserting implants/expanders. If the patient has small breasts, the team at the Klinik am Rhein performs a new type of technique that allows the patient to go home on the same day. It involves inserting tiny tissue expanders under the skin. They are called osmotic expanders. After the expansion phase of around 3 months, the now hard expander is replaced with a soft silicone gel implant.
Since the majority of breast diseases can now be treated using conservative methods, all that often remains after treatment is the defective tissue on one side. The asymmetry caused by the loss of volume can be treated by enlarging the affected breast. By comparing it with the healthy breast, the surgeon can define the aim of the treatment. At our clinic, we have many years of experience in all reconstruction techniques and would be happy to advise you on your own treatment plan. This also applies to transgender patients.
Modern methods involving the use of so-called matrices to cover the implants or injecting your own fatty tissue are also available. As plastic surgeons, we are experts in the relocation of tissue and the treatment of inverted scars in order to give your breasts the nicest shape possible. We are committed to ensuring that you as the patient are fully satisfied with the aesthetic result of your reconstructed breast.
Flap reconstruction is considerably more intricate; during this procedure, tissue is taken either from the back, creating a latissimus dorsi flap, or from the abdomen, creating a DIEP flap. Traditionally, a ‘TRAM flap’ from the abdomen has also been used. The treatment and the options available to you will be discussed during a personal consultation with the plastic surgeon at our clinic. Once the breast has been shaped, the nipple is then reconstructed, ideally by separating the nipple and the areola in combination with lifting the breast on the healthy side to ensure the breasts are even.
Breast reconstruction surgery with implants is much shorter and takes around an hour; flap reconstruction surgery takes around 3 to 6 hours. Both procedures are performed under general anaesthesia and the patient stays in the clinic after the procedure. Treatment with the osmotic expanders can be performed as an outpatient procedure and takes around 30 minutes. Replacing the expanders with soft silicone gel implants also takes around half an hour. Dissolvable sutures are used. Once patients have been discharged, they will be given an emergency mobile number so they can contact the surgeon if any complications occur. Strenuous exercise must be avoided for 6 weeks. The first check-up visit is after 1 week, and the final follow-up is after 12 weeks.