Using the new contoured style breast implants and allowing the implant to sit in the lower pole of the breast by making use of collagen materials in a sling fashion, surgeons have been able to incredibly improve the aesthetic results of breast reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction is completed through several plastic surgery techniques that try to restore a breast back to its original shape, appearance and size after a mastectomy. Dr. Robert T. Grant, a board certified plastic surgeon from New York City discusses how surgical technique and the newer contoured implants have allowed him to drastically improve aesthetic results in his mastectomy patients.
By: Robert T. Grant, MD
and Susan Kamyab
Saving your Breasts
In circumstances where the cancer is caught very early or there is minimal breast cancers, a patient’s nipple and areola complex is able to be preserved. “This leaves the skin envelope that we plastic surgeons call the outer frame work of how the breast maintains its shape and converts the plastic surgical reconstruction into a technique where we just need to fill that envelope with a material that will take the place of the breast tissue that was removed,” says Dr. Grant.
Filling the Skin Envelope and Maintaining the Breast’s Shape
There are two main ways to fill the skin envelope.
- Making use of the spare part surgery, where you take portions of the patient’s lower abdomen or if that’s not available, using microsurgical techniques, you can use areas from the thigh or the backside. Also known as the DIEP or SGAP flap techniques which do not use muscle, but transport tissue to the chest from the abdomen or buttock. The latissimus dorsi flap uses muscle, fat and skin from the back tunneled to the mastectomy site and remains attached to its donor site, leaving blood supply intact.
- To avoid the scars and changes at the donor site where you would take these spare parts, you could to choose to have an implant or what plastic surgeons call a device based reconstruction. Saline, silicone and of course the contoured style implants are available for reconstruction.
Benefiting from Contoured Breast Implants
Contoured Style Breast Implants were designed to maintain a natural slope of an unaugmented breast. Contoured breast implants have a textured surface to keep the implant from flipping in the pocket.
“The contoured breast implants allows me to address some of the areas where the past may not have completely filled the skin envelope. So I had to begin adding fat grafting in many of my patients to make sure that there wasn’t any emptiness in the area of the breast between the clavicle and where the implant began. The new contoured implants have minimized that need for additional secondary aversion procedures,” explains Dr. Grant.
Since the implant re-creates the more teardrop outline of a mature breast. This is often preferred by women who are looking for a gently sloping breast silhouette.
Regardless of what you decide, Dr. Grant says, “If breast reconstruction is something you need to consider, be sure that you talk to your board certified plastic surgeon about the latest options that are available.”