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Breast reconstruction plastic surgery
To get answers to the most frequent questions about breast reconstruction
plastic surgery, breast cancer, mammogrphy, and various physical
activities, please select one of the links below:
Are breast implants associated with an increased
risk of breast cancer?
While there has been much discussion of this issue, a recent
study of over 4000 women showed that breast implants do not appear
to be associated with an increased risk of subsequent breast cancer.
Breast reduction surgery also does not appear to be associated
with an increased risk of future breast cancer. (Reference: Brinton,
L.A., et. al. Breast Enlargement and Reduction: Results from a
Breast Cancer Case-Control Study Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 97: 269
When can I resume normal activity?
After placement of the implant, sedentary activities can be resumed
within the first week, and most other activities can be resumed
after about three weeks. Some plastic surgeons restrict activities
involving significant use of the pectoralis muscles for several
months following implant placement.
|Right breast reconstruction
(J. O'Connell, M.D.)
Will I need mammograms after reconstruction?
The opposite breast will require routine surveillance with breast
self-exam, physician exam and mammography.
With regard to the reconstructed breast, self-examination is
again the key and should be supplemented with regular examinations
by a physician familiar with breast reconstruction and breast
We also advise performing mammograms on the reconstructed breast
including additional tangential views, especially for those patients
whose tumors contained microcalcifications. The same schedule
should be used for the opposite side. (Reference: Dowden, R.V.,
Mammography after Implant Breast Reconstruction. Plast. Reconstr.
Surg. 96: 119, 1995)
Does implant reconstruction prevent detection
of local recurrence of breast cancer?
After mastectomy six to ten percent of patients will likely develop
a local recurrence of their cancer. The tissues where a recurrence
is most likely to occur are located in the area between the skin
and the pectoral muscle.
In unreconstructed breasts, mammography cannot be performed and
local recurrences are detected by close examination. Because implants
used in breast reconstruction are usually placed behind the pectoral
muscle, examination can still be performed, and reconstruction
can actually facilitate surveillance because it allows for mammography.
A study of 101 patients who underwent immediate breast reconstruction
at Duke University revealed no discernible adverse affect on the
natural course of surgically managed breast cancer. (Reference:
Georgiade, G.S., et. al. Long-Term Clinical Outcome of Immediate
Reconstruction after Mastectomy Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 76: 416,
Can mammography rupture my breast implant?
Yes. It's possible that mammography can rupture a breast implant
even when the mammogram is performed only on the opposite side;
however, rupture is unlikely. (Reference: Pay, A.D., Kenealy,
J. Breast Implant rupture Following Contralateral Mammography
Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 99: 1734 1997).
Will I be able to feel the implant?
Most patients quickly incorporate the implant into their body
image and don't notice its presence just as with a contact lens.
The implant itself can, of course, be felt by examination, and
the edge of the implant is readily palpable.
Very thin women will be able to feel the implant edges as well
as see wrinkling of the implant, particularly with contraction
of the chest muscles. This problem can sometimes be improved by
the use of silicone gel implants.
Can I go on an airplane with a tissue expander
and/or breast implant?
Yes. This question has been the subject of some folklore. In
1990 it was shown that breast implants can feel tight and firm
to the touch during long airplane flights and during ascents and
descents. This effect is most likely due to small amounts of air
present within the implant which expands as a result of changes
in cabin pressure. (Reference: Lovich, S.F., Meland, N. B. Breast
Implants and Air Flight Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 86: 172 1990).
Can I go SCUBA diving with a breast implant?
Yes. It is safe for patients with breast implants to participate
in recreational diving.
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