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I'm just a blonde when it comes to reconstruction...

bluewillo
Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2013

When I first got here, I thought you guys were talking about Southern Reconstruction!

But seriously, is there a kind of reconstruction that is just one surgery, with no expanders needed? I know when I had the mastectomy 4 yrs ago, they left it so a trans....somekind of tummy tuck-new boob job could be done. I am considering it and need more info before I see the oncdoc in 2 weeks.

The reason I ask is I see how many of you have the expanders, and I can tell already I WOULD NOT DO WELL with that.

TIA

blu

VickiSam's picture
VickiSam
Posts: 8255
Joined: Aug 2009

Tissue flap procedures

These procedures use tissue from your tummy, back, thighs, or buttocks to rebuild the breast. The 2 most common types of tissue flap procedures are the TRAM flap (or transverse rectus abdominis muscle flap), which uses tissue from the lower tummy area, and the latissimus dorsi flap, which uses tissue from the upper back. Other tissue flap surgeries described below are more specialized, and may not be available everywhere.

These operations leave 2 surgical sites and scars — one where the tissue was taken and one on the reconstructed breast. The scars fade over time, but they will never go away completely. There can be donor site problems such as abdominal hernias and muscle damage or weakness. There can also be differences in the size and shape of the breasts. Because healthy blood vessels are needed for the tissue’s blood supply, flap procedures are not usually offered to women with diabetes, connective tissue or vascular disease, or to smokers.

In general, flap procedures behave more like the rest of your body tissue. For instance, they may enlarge or shrink as you gain or lose weight. There’s also no worry about replacement or rupture.

TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) flap

The TRAM flap procedure uses tissue and muscle from the tummy (the lower abdominal wall). The tissue from this area alone is often enough to shape the breast, so that an implant may not be needed. The skin, fat, blood vessels, and at least one abdominal muscle are moved from the belly (abdomen) to the chest. The TRAM flap can decrease the strength in your belly, and may not be possible in women who have had abdominal tissue removed in previous surgeries. The procedure also results in a tightening of the lower belly, or a “tummy tuck.”

There are 2 types of TRAM flaps:

  • A pedicle flap leaves the flap attached to its original blood supply and tunnels it under the skin to the breast area. This can leave an area of fullness under the skin where the tissue is tunneled.
  • In a free flap, the surgeon cuts the flap of skin, fat, blood vessels, and muscle for the implant free from its original location and then attaches it to blood vessels in the chest. This requires the use of a microscope (microsurgery) to connect the tiny vessels and takes longer than a pedicle flap. The free flap is not done as often as the pedicle flap, but some doctors think that it can result in a more natural shape.

VickiSam's picture
VickiSam
Posts: 8255
Joined: Aug 2009

Latissimus dorsi flap

DIEP (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator) flap

The DIEP flap uses fat and skin from the same area as in the TRAM flap but does not use the muscle to form the breast mound. This results in less skin and fat in the lower belly (abdomen), or a “tummy tuck.” This method uses a free flap, meaning that the tissue is completely cut free from the tummy and then moved to the chest area. Use of a microscope (microsurgery) is needed to connect the tiny vessels. The procedure takes longer than the TRAM pedicle flap discussed above, but leaves less muscle weakness and causes fewer hernias. It isn’t available in all areas.

Donor tissue site for DIEP flap After DIEP flap

Gluteal free flap

The gluteal free flap or GAP (gluteal artery perforator) flap is newer type of surgery that uses tissue from the buttocks, including the gluteal muscle, to create the breast shape. It might be an option for women who cannot or do not wish to use the tummy sites due to thinness, incisions, failed tummy flap, or other reasons, but it’s not offered in many areas of the country. The method is much like the free TRAM flap mentioned above. The skin, fat, blood vessels, and muscle are cut out of the buttocks and then moved to the chest area. A microscope (microsurgery) is needed to connect the tiny vessels.

 

teresa41's picture
teresa41
Posts: 453
Joined: Jun 2009

I had the lattisimus dorsi reconstruction I don't have implants or expanders they used my back muscles for reconstruction!

 

 

teresa

bluewillo
Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2013

How'd that work out for you? Was it easy?

bluewillo
Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2013

for a most complete explanation. (Oh, and when I have those blonde moments? They're really just old chemo brain cells...and I really am blonde! I was lucky enough that when my hair came back after chemo, it came back my natural color)

teresa41's picture
teresa41
Posts: 453
Joined: Jun 2009

I had my surgery jan 2012 I was in surgery 5 hours in the hospital 5 days and came home with 6 drain tubes . Recovery took time about 8 weeks I can say it wasn't a easy surgery or recovery ! I had both sides done but the outcome I am happy with . I did read up on the surgery a lot beforehand . I could not have the reconstruction from my tummy because I didn't have enough belly for it ! So I had to go with the back muscle Reconstruction !

 

hope this helps 

teresa

jendrey's picture
jendrey
Posts: 377
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi blu! 

I've had both types of reconstruction!  During the mastectomy they placed a tissue expander and eventually I had that replaced with an implant.  Due to the raditation my skin was somewhat leathery and stretched real thin.  The implant was too small AND nothing more could really be done.  I really wasn't any too happy having to constantly tug my shirt down since it always rode up on the too small side.

I decided to go with a TRAM flap.  Wow, what a difference.  It's like normal skin that moves with me for the most part!

AND, I got a tummy tuck out of it too!!!!

I really thought moving the abdominal muscle would feel weird or that I would feel it pulling somehow but no, it feels just the same as it ever did.  My PS went ahead and put the implant back in so that side is a bit bigger than the other side.  (She added enough skin/tissue to accomodate a nipple reconstruction.)  I'm giving it a few months to settle in before deciding to size up (the other side) or size down!!!  lol

I'm having a little trouble with complete wound closure on the tummy tuck but it's working out.

Wishing you the best!

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