What are the steps in a staged breast reconstruction?
Learn more from Dr. Michael Howard on behalf of NorthShore University HealthSystem about steps in a staged breast reconstruction.
The staged approach to breast reconstruction really is a term that involves starting the reconstruction
at some point, but anticipating that several steps will be needed for reconstruction over the next months to years.
Breast reconstruction comes in really two varieties-- one utilizing an implant or the other utilizing a patient's
own tissue. We as reconstructive surgeons, for doing breast reconstruction surgery, can offer reconstruction
either at the immediate time of the breast removal or mastectomy or at a time later following
mastectomy, either months or many years down the road. So a woman who, for instance, may choose implant reconstruction would
start with the initial procedure at the time of the mastectomy by the plastic surgeon inserting a tissue
expander into the breast space. This expander creates a pocket and is
filled by the plastic surgeon in the office over the next several weeks to months. And then at some point, a staged procedure or a second procedure
is performed, say, three to four months later where that temporary expander is removed, and the final implant is placed into the space.
So the term staged means that there are several steps to the reconstruction. In this case, with the implant example,
the third stage would be the creation of a nipple, should that be removed during the mastectomy.
And that can be done several weeks or months later as well-- yet another step or stage in the breast reconstruction.
I think the most important factor for this planning is not to be concerned about how many stages really is required,
because each of them may be a small step, but just having a good plan and good expectations with the surgeon of what to expect along the way
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