Advanced Breast Reconstruction for Women
Dr. Maia is a board-certified Harvard fellowship-trained plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction. She is known for her compassionate approach to patient care. Dr. Maia’s philosophy is to educate and empower her patients to make a well-informed decision about their bodies and provide a natural, beautiful and long-lasting breast reconstruction.
Dr. Maia devoted years of research to improve the lives of patients with breast cancer. Her research has contributed with new surgical techniques in breast reconstruction, prevention of complications, management of pain after surgery, improvement of breast reconstruction outcomes, assessment of patients’ perspectives and satisfaction following breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy.
What is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
Reconstructive breast surgery rebuilds the shape and look of the breast following surgery to treat breast cancer or procedures that result in breast deformity. The change in appearance can have an impact on self-image and confidence and many women decide to undergo breast reconstruction. The goals of breast reconstruction are to help women feel comfortable in their bodies and confident in their appearance.
What are the Different Types of Breast Reconstruction?
There are several different types of breast reconstruction procedures, there are three main options to consider: oncoplastic surgery, implant-based reconstruction, and autologous tissue reconstruction. What are the differences?
- Oncoplastic Surgery after Lumpectomy
- This procedure is generally best in cases where only a small amount of breast tissue is removed, such as removal of a small tumor or lump. In such cases, the surgeon may be able to rearrange tissue to fill the gap where a tumor has been removed, preserving the natural shape of the breast, rather than leaving a defect. Depending on the size of the tumor, this procedure may involve reducing the size of one breast or both breasts. Breast augmentation or breast lift can also be combined with oncoplastic surgery. During your consultation, Dr. Maia will discuss your options. This procedure is not sufficient to account for the amount of tissue lost during a mastectomy.
- Implant-Based Reconstruction
- Many women who had tissue loss after mastectomy (surgery that removes the breast tissue) elect to undergo an implant-based reconstruction procedure, whereby a breast implant is put in place of missing breast tissue to restore lost volume and shape. This may be done in one or two procedures. More commonly, a tissue expander is placed during the time of the mastectomy. A tissue expander is an empty breast implant and is temporary. This implant is filled with normal saline over six to eight weeks until it reaches the breast size that you desire. After 4-8 weeks after the tissue expander is completed, you will have a second surgery to replace the tissue expander with the permanent implant. If you need chemotherapy or radiation, Dr. Maia will discuss with you when the final implant will be placed. If only one breast is affected with breast cancer, procedures on the opposite breast, such as lift, reduction or augmentation, may be recommended to improve symmetry.
- Autologous Reconstruction
- Some women are not interested in having breast implants, for a variety of reasons. Autologous or tissue-transfer breast reconstruction is another option. This technique utilizes tissue from another part of the body (tummy, thighs, hips, buttocks) to reconstruct the breast. This type of reconstruction utilizes microsurgery techniques where small blood vessels are reconnected under the microscope.
- What is Nipple and Areola Reconstruction?
- While there are surgical procedures like nipple-sparing mastectomy that allow women to retain their natural nipples, there are also cases in which this is not an option. The nipple and areola complex can be reconstructed with local flaps and skin grafts or recreated with 3-D tattoo.
Reasons for Breast Reconstruction
There are several reasons why a woman might want breast reconstruction. Breast cancer reconstruction is a common occurrence, especially following single or double mastectomy. If a mastectomy is deemed medically necessary to treat cancer, insurance must cover reconstructive surgery (as mandated by the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998).
There are other reasons for breast reconstruction. The removal of a tumor could leave one breast deformed and/or smaller than the other. Accidents and injuries could result in damage and deformity. Some women suffer from botched breast augmentation or reconstruction procedures.
In all of these cases, damage or loss of a breast or breasts could impact self-image and confidence, leading to anxiety, depression, anger, and other negative consequences. Breast reconstruction could improve many of these outcomes.
Does Breast Reconstruction Work and is it Safe?
While breasts may not look exactly like they did before, reconstruction is typically designed to create a normal appearing breast which provide significant psychosocial benefits. Advanced techniques in breast reconstruction allow surgeons to deliver natural looking and long-lasting results.
Breast reconstruction recovery will vary from patient to patient, based on factors like the reasons for reconstruction, the type of procedure, previous radiation, and the patient’s own capacity for healing. It could take several months for swelling to subside, and even longer for scars to flatten and fade.
If you have been thinking about having a breast reconstruction procedure, please contact us today for more information.
Dr. Maia is a well-respected researcher in the scientific community and is a reviewer of the most prestigious plastic surgery journal, the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal. Dr. Maia’s work has been cited and relied upon by many researchers around the world in well-reputed international and national scientific journals. As a result of her work, she has been invited to present her research in numerous national and international conferences, and her work has been awarded in regional and national meetings. Dr. Maia is also involved in teaching residents, medical students and physician assistants.
Dr. Maia is involved in charity work. She performs charitable reconstructive surgery for patients with breast cancer and supports organizations that help women coping with breast cancer.