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Surgeons are now able to create a breast that can come close to looking like a natural breast. Reconstruction can be done immediately following mastectomy. The patient will wake up with a breast mound already in place. So the woman does not have to go through the trauma of waking up without her other breast. A tissue expander is inserted following the mastectomy to prepare for reconstruction. The expander is gradually filled with saline through a separate tube to stretch the skin enough to accept an implant beneath the chest muscle. After the surgery the breast mound is restored. The areola is reconstructed at a later date. With flap surgery, tissue is taken from the back and tunneled to the front of the chest wall to support the reconstructed breast. The transported tissue forms a flap for a breast implant, or it may provide enough bulk to form the breast mound without an implant. Tissue may be taken from the abdomen and tunneled to the breast or surgically transplanted to form a new breast mound. After surgery, the breast mound, and areola are restored. Scars at the breast, and abdomen will fade with time, but may never disappear entirely.
Your reconstructed breast may feel firmer and look rounder or flatter than your natural breast. It may not have the same shape as your breast before mastectomy, and it will not match your other breast. But the difference will only be noticeable to you. For most mastectomy patients, breast reconstruction dramatically improves their appearance and quality of life following surgery.
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