Mayo Clinic-trained, board-certified Nashville plastic surgeon Chad Robbins, M.D., F.A.C.S., performs breast reconstruction using several reconstructive plastic surgery techniques. Each technique works to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance, and size following mastectomy. The specific technique(s) he uses depend on each patient’s medical history, existing breast tissue following mastectomy, and the desired look after reconstruction.
What is Breast Reconstruction?
Dr. Robbins offers sophisticated breast reconstruction procedures and techniques to patients following mastectomy. Breast reconstruction refers to the cosmetic procedures done following a mastectomy to restore or enhance the shape, size, and appearance, of the breasts. Dr. Robbins carefully consults with each patient regarding their desire for breast reconstruction.
Some women choose to have their breasts returning as close to their previous size and shape, while someone women prefer to try something new with the reconstruction. Dr. Robbins offers many techniques to reconstruct the breasts post-mastectomy to meet the needs of all patients. These may include:
- Flap techniques that reposition a woman’s own muscle, fat, and skin to create or cover the breast mound (A “flap” refers to the portion of tissue used).
- Tissue expansion that stretches healthy skin to provide coverage for a breast implant.
- Surgical placement of a breast implant to create a breast mound.
- Grafting and other specialized techniques to create a nipple and areola.
- Skin-sparing mastectomy.
- Nipple-sparing mastectomy.
Dr. Robbins recommends that women undergoing mastectomy typically have the breast reconstruction procedure done the same day. This allows Dr. Robbins to take advantage of the skin’s elasticity and minimizes the patient’s discomfort following two procedure days versus just one. However, some patients choose to wait a while after the mastectomy due to cancer treatment or simply needing a break, and Dr. Robbins will ensure those patients achieve desired results, as well.
Dr. Robbins will work to understand each patient’s desired outcomes for breast reconstruction and provide guidance on making the entire process as easy on the patient as possible. Dr. Robbins has much experience in this field and is proud to provide his most courageous patients with the experience and care necessary to make breast reconstruction a positive and rewarding experience.
Who is a Strong Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
If you have gone or are planning to undergo breast removal, or mastectomy, you are likely a strong candidate for breast reconstruction. Many women feel unfeminine following mastectomy and breast reconstruction can help rebuild confidence and respect for the body. Furthermore, Dr. Robbins will consult each patient and any relevant medical providers to the patient to ensure breast reconstruction is beneficial for the patient at that time.
Latissimus Flap Breast Reconstruction in Nashville in Nashville, TN
The latissimus dorsi flap method is a procedure for breast reconstruction that has been in use for more than 30 years. This method uses skin from the patient’s body and is commonly combined with a tissue expander and a breast implant.
The latissimus flap technique offers Dr. Robbins additional options with regard to the appearance of the reconstructed breast. The skin flap can create a more natural-looking breast shape when compared to a breast restored through the use of tissue expanders and breast implants alone.
Very thin patients with small breasts can sometimes rely on a latissimus dorsi flap by itself for breast reconstruction because they don’t need implants.
Tissue Expanders in Nashville, TN
Post-mastectomy breast reconstruction with a tissue expander and an implant requires a staged approach. Dr. Robbins will use a tissue expander as a temporary device, placed on the chest wall deep in the pectoralis major muscle. He may place the tissue expander immediately following the mastectomy or later, which is called a delayed procedure.
A tissue expander is designed to create a pocket to contain the permanent breast implant. Tissue expanders are available in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit the size of the implant the patient and Dr. Robbins choose.
In some cases, Dr. Robbins may use Acellular Dermal Matrix (ADM) as part of breast reconstruction with tissue expanders. This involves grafting sterile donor tissue to provide a framework into which the patient’s own skin tissue can grow, contributing to a more natural-looking breast shape and providing support for the implant.
Skin-Sparing Mastectomy in Nashville in Nashville, TN
In a skin-sparing mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery, the entire breast, nipple, and areola are removed without removing the breast skin. To preserve the skin, breast reconstruction is performed immediately after the mastectomy.
In this case, the cancer surgeon and Dr. Robbins work together. To remove the cancerous breast tissue, the cancer surgeon makes a small incision around the areola and maintains the rest of the breast skin to optimize the results of cosmetic reconstruction. This leaves a natural breast pocket that Dr. Robbins then fills with either a breast implant or other tissue from the patient’s body.
Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy in Nashville, TN
For some patients, a nipple-sparing mastectomy is an option. To preserve the nipple, breast reconstruction is performed immediately after the mastectomy. In this case, the cancer surgeon and Dr. Robbins work together.
Nipple-sparing surgery is performed by:
- Removing only the breast tissue.
- Hollowing out the area of the nipple.
- Analyzing the tissue that is left for any signs of cancer.
- Immediately reconstructing the tissue back into the breast skin.
Good candidates for the nipple-sparing mastectomy are women who have smaller tumors positioned away from the nipple, as well as those who have elected to have a total mastectomy as a preventative measure.
Following surgery, gauze or bandages are applied to the incisions. After the surgery, the sensation of the nipple and areola are not maintained.
Dr. Robbins sends the patient home with an elastic bandage or support bra, which compresses the surgical area and should minimize swelling while supporting the reconstructed breast. Healing continues for several weeks. Localized swelling should decrease. Over time, the breast shape should normalize and improve.
How Much Does Breast Reconstruction Cost?
Breast reconstruction costs vary among patients. To provide accessibility to quality care for all patients, Dr. Robbins does offer financing options at his office. Schedule a breast reconstruction consultation with Dr. Robbins today to learn about the options for your own procedure.
Dr. Robbins is board certified in plastic surgery and is skilled in the most advanced cosmetic and reconstructive surgery techniques. His focus is on helping patients in and around Nashville and Franklin enhance their quality of life in addition to achieving aesthetic goals. Please contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Robbins in Nashville.