As a plastic surgeon serving in Ohio, I have spent the last several years fulfilling my patients’ surgical needs. At our plastic surgery practice in Gahanna, our breasts’ reconstructive and cosmetic surgery has become a service that has enabled us to work with countless women across the states of Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia.
Among the reconstructive procedures on the breasts that have been getting a fair amount of attention recently is the prepectoral breast reconstruction. This procedure uses breast implants to reconstruct the breasts after a surgical mastectomy. Thus, it has become a popular option for survivors of breast cancer all over the country.
With that, let’s take an inside look at this unique surgical procedure and find out what is its difference from conventional reconstruction techniques and its benefits and risks.
Prepectoral Reconstruction: A Closer Look
A lot of people might be asking, what exactly is prepectoral breast reconstruction? This technique restores the patient’s breasts by placing the implants above the chest muscles. What sets this technique apart is that the implants are placed underneath the chest.
The procedure consists of two stages:
- Stage one – the placement of tissue or sub-pectoral expander under the patient’s skin.
- Stage two – the replacement of that expander with permanent implants.
A third stage sometimes occurs, where fat from the patient’s hips or flanks is removed and injected into the upper breasts.
For women to undergo this procedure, they must fall under the following requirements:
- They must be newly diagnosed or have experienced reconstructive surgery in the past.
- Women must have a cup size of B or C
- They must fall under a moderate Body Mass Index or BMI (18.5 – 24.9)
The surgical and recovery time for this technique is concise. The surgery itself takes around 1-2 hours and is performed after a mastectomy – a surgical procedure that removes the breasts of patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The usual recovery time can take between 1-2 weeks.
The following benefits show what will happen to women when they decide to undergo prepectoral breast reconstruction:
- Less Pain – Unlike standard reconstruction techniques, patients will experience less pain if they undergo prepectoral reconstruction
- Unaffected – Any chest muscle movement will not affect the implants
- Appearance – Women will have natural-looking breasts after surgery
- No Hospital Stay – Women can instantly go home after surgery.
- Recovery – Women will experience a quicker recovery time
Risks & Complications
Once women undergo prepectoral breast reconstruction, they may experience the following complications:
- Delayed Healing – Women might experience delayed healing after surgery, and this issue might cause the implants to be exposed or infected.
- Skin after Mastectomy – The health of the patient’s skin will determine if it’s safe to put the tissue expander.
- Additional Procedures – Additional procedures might be needed if there are any open wounds in the incision sites.
- Removal of Implant’s Tissue Expander – If there are any infections to either the expander or the implants, the surgeon will have no choice but to remove them temporarily.
Prepectoral and Standard Techniques: What’s the Difference?
There are a lot of differences between the prepectoral and standard breast reconstruction techniques. The prepectoral technique places the implants above the chest muscles. Not only that, it uses a purified human skin product to support the implants. This process replaces breast tissue, but the surrounding skin remains intact.
However, for the standard technique, surgeons cut the muscle sitting on the chest wall to insert the implants. Aside from the breast implants, reconstructing the breasts also uses muscle, fat, and tissue from different body parts. Women also experience unnatural breasts in both appearance and movement.
Furthermore, women experience morbidity of muscle elevation and difficulties to place the implants when they use other techniques. They also experience window shading, where a crease or dimple is formed during the muscles’ flexing.
Breast Reconstruction & You
As plastic surgeons, our goal is to make survivors of breast cancer feel complete again through the means of reconstructive surgery. Every day, breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology enable us to find new ways to restore the body.
Indeed every woman’s body is unique. For some, a prepectoral breast reconstruction will gain better, more satisfying results than the standard technique. If you’re interested in knowing more about prepectoral reconstruction, you may schedule your consultation online or call us at (855) 687-6227. With our years of training, we can assess if the procedure fits your body.