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Experiencing breast cancer can be an emotional roller coaster ride as you navigate the different stages of your diagnosis, treatment and recovery. After your cancer has been removed, you may begin looking forwards towards returning to normalcy. That may include reconstructing the breasts so that they appear more feminine, symmetrical and balanced. 

Using a variety of cutting-edge, precision-based techniques, Dr. Zampell provides stunning breast reconstruction results that are personalized and elegant. She also offers the emotional support and guidance so necessary for a plastic surgeon working with breast cancer survivors. If you are interested in learning more about how breast reconstruction can help you regain your quality of life, call Dr. Zampell today to set up a confidential consultation.

What is breast reconstruction?

After breast cancer, the chest may need to be reshaped and sculpted to create a natural and attractive appearance. This is where breast reconstruction can be invaluable. Your plastic surgeon can use a variety of techniques to help restore not only your figure but your self-confidence and peace of mind as well. 

Methods of reconstructing the breasts after mastectomy or lumpectomy range from implant-based procedures to the creation of autologous flaps using the patient’s own tissue, skin and fat. Breast reconstruction can be performed in tandem with cancer removal, or it can be performed at a later date. 

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What are the different techniques used for breast reconstruction?

AUTOLOGOUS RECONSTRUCTION

During this procedure, flaps are created using the patient’s own tissue, skin, and fat, taken from a donor area such as the back, thighs, or stomach. During free flap surgery, tissue mounds are separated from their blood supply and then reconnected in the chest. Pedicled flaps, on the other hand, require the flaps to remain connected to their blood source. As a seasoned microsurgeon, Dr. Zampell can perform both types of autologous reconstruction, restoring a natural, feminine appearance in the chest.

IMPLANT-BASED RECONSTRUCTION

Implant-based reconstruction can be either a direct-to-implant procedure or a two-stage treatment. During direct-to-implant, mastectomy and breast reconstruction are performed at the same time, which can help to mitigate the emotional distress a breast cancer survivor faces. During a two-stage process, the surgeon will widen the breast capsule with a tissue expander to make room for the implants, which are placed at a later date.

HYBRID RECONSTRUCTION

A hybrid reconstruction is an excellent option for thin women who lack sufficient donor tissue and fat to support a purely autologous procedure. It is also good for clients who want to avoid the scarring associated with implant-only procedures. By combining flap surgery with implants, hybrid reconstruction can create a soft, natural-looking bosom with an appealing increase in cup size.

ONCOPLASTIC RECONSTRUCTION

Oncoplastic reconstruction means that cancer will be removed at the same time as the breasts are lifted, augmented, or reshaped in a single procedure. This surgery can be undergone prior to radiation. It can greatly improve the symmetry of the breasts and can preserve the greatest amount of tissue in cases where the tumor is unusually large.

LUMPECTOMY RECONSTRUCTION

After lumpectomy, the breasts may be asymmetrical, shrunken, and scarred. Lumpectomy reconstruction can be performed to correct deformities and establish aesthetic harmony and balance in the chest. Flap surgery and fat grafting can be used to revitalize your appearance and restore quality of life.

MICROSURGERY

Microsurgery is used whenever tissue must be transferred from a donor area to another part of the body, such as during autologous flap reconstruction. It helps to spare the muscles during treatment and can lead to a pleasing and authentic final outcome for breast reconstruction while also improving precision.

LYMPHEDEMA SURGERY

If radiation or tumor removal has caused damage to the lymphatic system, the end result may be a buildup of fluid. This, in turn, can lead to swelling in the arms and painful infections. Surgery or lymph node transfer can be performed in tandem with reconstruction and may prove a more effective solution for lymphedema than wearing a compression garment after treatment.

What are the benefits of breast reconstruction?

  • Helps restore a woman’s femininity and self-image after breast cancer removal
  • Helps create a more feminine, natural breast appearance
  • Improves your wardrobe options
  • Procedure can be tailored to your needs and aesthetic preferences
  • Corrects breast asymmetry

Who makes a good candidate for the procedure?

Most women are good candidates for breast reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy, but the exact method of reconstruction will depend on factors such as whether the client has undergone radiation and whether the chest can support implants, etc.

Other factors that may affect your candidacy include:

  • Your overall health – If you are struggling with any current medical conditions, your surgeon may want you to postpone reconstruction since additional surgeries can increase your risk of bleeding or infection.
  • Smoking – If you smoke, you will need to quit before surgery, as this habit can significantly interfere with your body’s ability to heal.
  • Your weight – Being overweight may mean the risks of reconstructive surgery are increased. Additionally, your cosmetic results may fall short of your expectations. It may be better to lose the excess weight prior to reconstruction.
  • Scarring – If you have scars from previous operations, this may limit your choices in terms of reconstructive techniques.
  • Expectations – It’s important to understand that breast reconstruction cannot recreate your breasts as they were before. You will need to have realistic expectations for your results based on your doctor’s before and after photographs.
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What is the cost of Breast Reconstruction surgery?

Because each patient’s cosmetic concerns, goals for the procedure, and physique are entirely unique, the exact cost of any plastic surgery procedure, from any plastic surgeon, is only available after a personal consultation. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to patients to understand the costs associated with their breast reconstruction surgery for planning purposes.

The individual costs involved in a breast reconstruction surgery include your surgeon’s fee, the hospital’s or facility’s fees, and the cost of anesthesia, recovery garments, and prescription medication. Most if not all medical insurance providers have plans that cover the costs involved in breast reconstruction.

Health insurance plans make breast reconstruction surgery vastly more affordable but they don’t always cover every related cost. If insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the procedure, most patients can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 for the reconstruction of one breast, up to $30,000 for both breasts—again, depending on each patient’s own unique goals and physique.



What can I expect from my consultation?

Your private consultation is a time for you to get to know Dr. Zampell, asking questions about your procedure and explaining your goals. Dr. Zampell will perform a physical evaluation of your breasts as well as a thorough review of your medical and surgical history. She will then present a personalized action plan detailing the approach she thinks will work best in your specific case. Dr. Zampell can work together with your oncologist(s) to offer solutions that empower you and support your total well-being. 

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What can I expect from my recovery?

Your recovery will be based on your individual healing ability and on the method used to reconstruct your breasts. Swelling, bruising and tenderness will be present, but your discomfort can be well controlled with pain medications prescribed by the doctor. You will need to wear a support bra at first to help preserve your new breast contours. Those undergoing flap surgery will need more time to recover, especially if muscle has been removed. 

Within a few days of surgery, you’ll be able to resume light activity, and some can return to work within about 2 weeks. Strenuous exercise, however, should be avoided for around 6 weeks. It’s important that you follow your doctor’s aftercare instructions carefully, as this can help ensure a manageable and timely recovery. You will need to attend regular follow up appointments with Dr. Zampell so she can monitor your progress and ensure your healing is on track.

Why choose
Dr. Zampell?

Dr. Zampell is a compassionate, experienced breast surgeon who combines a mastery of cosmetic science with consummate artistry. After receiving her medical degree at Ohio State University, Dr. Zampell completed her elite training in Reconstructive Plastic Surgery with a prestigious residency at NYU. She then went on to pursue an elite Fellowship in Microsurgery at UCLA. Dr. Zampell has contributed to academic plastic surgery and oncologic journals, sharing her advanced knowledge of breast reconstruction and lymphedema prevention with a broader audience. She is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery, and the Women in Microsurgery Group.

FAQ

Is breast reconstruction mandatory after breast cancer?

While breast reconstruction can improve the cosmetic results of mastectomy or lumpectomy and can thus help breast cancer survivors to feel more confident, it may not be for everyone. Some clients may simply not wish to undergo any further surgical procedures and that is okay. Breast reconstruction is a personal decision. Talk things over with your doctor and find out more information before deciding either way.

Will my results look natural?

Dr. Zampell takes great care to create a result that is balanced, authentic and natural-looking. She will employ cutting-edge techniques, often combining them to create the most strategic approach possible. Flap procedures combined with breast implants can help provide the client with a breast profile that is elegant, feminine and youthful.

If I only needed breast reconstruction in one breast, will I need surgery on the other breast?

In order to further the goal of a symmetrical, aesthetically pleasing outcome, Dr. Zampell can perform breast augmentation, breast reduction or breast lift surgery on the other breast to make sure your chest looks natural and balanced. Dr. Zampell will ensure your result matches your initial goals.

What is the difference between immediate reconstruction and delayed reconstruction?

Immediate reconstruction can be performed at the same time as mastectomy. This is often preferred by the client as it can help mitigate the emotional distress of losing one’s breasts. For various reasons, however, this is not always possible. The patient may need to have a tissue expander placed in the breast capsule temporarily in order to create more room for implants, or there may be underlying conditions such as previous scarring that prevent immediate reconstruction. Delayed reconstruction means that mastectomy is performed first, and then a plastic surgeon performs reconstruction at a later date. Women sometimes choose delayed reconstruction because they are overwhelmed by the number of surgeries they need and prefer to stage out their recovery.

Does breast reconstruction come with any risks?

There are risks with any surgery, but Dr. Zampell does an incredible job of minimizing them through conservative techniques and meticulous attention to detail. She will inform you of the risks and benefits of breast reconstruction during your private consultation. Risks may include poor anesthesia reactions, bleeding, infection, poor wound healing, temporary numbness, fluid buildup, hernia, asymmetry, and implant failure.

What happens if I need radiation?

Radiation can be harmful to your breast reconstruction, so it’s best to wait until you finish your therapy before embarking on breast renewal. Instead, a tissue expander can be inserted into the breast capsule to reserve a place for implants until you are finished receiving radiation. For those who have undergone radiation, implant-only breast reconstruction is discouraged due to its increased risks of complications, infections and poor aesthetic outcomes.

Why might I need a tissue expander?

The placement of implants after mastectomy differs a great deal from breast augmentation done for cosmetic purposes only. Healthy breast tissue reacts more favorably to breast augmentation techniques, whereas after mastectomy, there may be a shortage of tissue that can accommodate the implants. A tissue expander can help create the right coverage and capacity to house the implants after mastectomy.

What are the limitations on my activities after breast reconstruction?

As long as your drains are in place, you cannot be submerged in water, so no baths. You are permitted to shower, however. Immediately after surgery you will need to limit your arm movements. No stretching overhead or reaching. If you’ve had flap materials taken from your abdomen, you will not be able to lift more than 5 pounds for at least 6 weeks. Light walking is permitted, as this can help to stimulate circulation and can also improve your mood.

Will insurance pay for breast reconstruction?

In 1998, Congress passed the Women’s Health and Cancer Act, requiring health insurance plans to cover reconstructive procedures after mastectomy. The Act also states that insurance funds can be used to ensure a symmetrical breast appearance after cancer.

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