What is Breast Reconstruction?

Women in Hood River, Portland, and the surrounding areas who have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy, who are looking for nipple reconstruction or chest muscle reconstruction, or who are looking for corrective surgery due to poor results from prior surgery can benefit from breast reconstruction.

There are two main options for the procedure:

  • Implant Reconstruction: When a tissue expander is required over two to three months before the use of a soft implant.
  • Flap Reconstruction: A procedure that uses tissue from your abdomen or back since you require continued radiation. Usually, the areola and nipple are reconstructed using medical tattooing.

Additionally, procedures may be either:

  • Immediate, having been planned in tandem with your mastectomy surgeon.
  • Delayed, creating a reconstruction plan sometime after recovering from prior breast surgery.

Breast Implant Reconstruction

Women who underwent breast cancer procedures and who retained enough chest tissue to fully cover and conceal a breast implant may be good candidates for implant-assisted reconstruction. This may be performed at the same time as a mastectomy or at a later date using tissue expanders. Using breast augmentation procedures, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Bohley can create a new breast mound that feels very similar to natural breast tissue.

In an immediate procedure, Dr. Bohley will use the mastectomy incisions to place your pre-determined breast implants either above or below the pectoralis muscle, depending on which will create better results aesthetically. By planning ahead, this combination procedure creates a breast mound immediately following mastectomy, so although you have lost your natural breasts, you recover from this procedure with your reconstructed breast to help you transition to a new identity.

A delayed breast reconstruction process relies on a tissue expander process to create a breast pocket where there was before. This process takes two to three months, through regular visits to Dr. Bohley’s office for tissue expansion appointments. When the breast pocket is suitably sized, you will schedule a day for the surgical procedure to insert your chosen permanent implant.

Breast Flap Reconstruction

There are many options for flap reconstruction using tissue from the abdomen, thighs, or glutes in several different techniques. Flap breast reconstruction is a delicate but highly effective plastic surgery procedure and is able to help correct breast asymmetry, provide increased breast size, and help repair any chest muscle damaged or removed during mastectomy.

Because flap procedures are highly diverse and are optimized for patients taking into account a host of conditions, such as the type and degree of reconstruction desired, the amount of tissue in donor locations, and your medical history, including surgery that may have damaged blood vessels in various locations. Because of all this, it’s best to learn about your options for flap reconstructive surgery from the expert, Dr. Bohley, during a breast reconstruction consultation.

Am I a Good Candidate for Breast Reconstruction in Portland, OR?

Many women undergo breast reconstruction to help restore their feeling of femininity or help with their self-confidence. Others believe reconstruction will give them a sense of well-being. Whatever the reason, breast reconstruction is a private and individual choice, and should only be pursued after careful consideration of what this procedure entails, both in the short term and the long term.

Candidates for breast reconstruction surgery are women who have undergone a mastectomy, or lumpectomy, or who simply had malformed breast tissue from birth.

You may be an ideal candidate for breast reconstruction if you have been coping well with your diagnosis and treatment and do not have any additional illnesses that may impair your healing. You must also have realistic goals for restoring your body image and a positive outlook. Lastly, this is an individualized procedure and you must be ready to do it for yourself and not for anyone else!

Breast Reconstruction FAQs

Can I sleep on my side after breast reconstruction?

It is not recommended to sleep on your side after breast reconstruction, rather to lay elevated and on your back. Depending on your rate of recovery, Dr. Bohley will instruct you on when it is safe to sleep on your side again.

How difficult is the recovery from DIEP flap surgery?

Recovery from DIEP flap surgery takes several weeks, and can feel worse than surgeries that only affect one surgical site.

Can you have reconstruction after breast radiation?

Although radiation therapy leads to increased risk of complication after breast reconstruction, it is still successful in most cases, especially when the patients own tissue is used, rather than an implant.

Do I need to wear a bra after breast reconstruction?

Depending on the type of reconstructive surgery performed, we provide patients with a surgical bra to help reduce swelling and ensure natural-looking results.

Does breast reconstruction look natural?

When performed by a qualified, experienced reconstructive surgeon like Dr. Bohley, reconstructive surgery can provide natural results through several different techniques.

How do you lift your breast with surgery?

A breast lift is typically the preferred procedure for lifting the breasts to a higher position on the chest and creating a more youthful appearance.

How long after breast reconstruction can I exercise?

Breast reconstruction patients can typically get up and move around without help after two or three days, and strenuous exercise should be avoided for several weeks depending on your unique surgical plan.

How long is surgery for double mastectomy and reconstruction?

When performed during separate procedures, reconstruction after double mastectomy may take several months. This can be even longer when a tissue expander is needed to create a suitably sized breast pocket.

How long does it take to recover from reconstructive breast surgery?

The recovery process for breast reconstruction varies widely based on the overall health of the patient and specific surgical plans. Most reconstruction patients require several weeks before feeling "back to normal" and returning to their regular routines.

How long does DIEP flap surgery take?

DIEP flap reconstruction can take between six to eight hours to perform.

What Should I Expect During Recovery from Breast Reconstruction?

Post-surgery, you will be wearing a support bra to help minimize swelling. A pain pump may be used for narcotic requirements. It will take several weeks for the healing process and you must consult Dr. Bohley to know your individual recovery period for resuming normal activities.

Depending on the type of reconstruction you have undergone, you may be spending most of the first week laying or sitting down. After the second or third day, you should be able to walk without assistance, which is recommended to encourage good circulation in the legs. In the early stages of recovery, you will be seeing Dr. Bohley weekly until all of the drains are removed.

During recovery, your breasts may seem larger due to swelling, but this will subside over time. Wounds will often feel itchy as they heal, but patients should avoid scratching them. Scars will take one year to fully mature, and any treatments to help minimize the appearance of scars should be discussed with Dr. Bohley.

What Are My Reconstruction Results Like?

The final results of your surgery vary by the procedure used and the condition of the breast prior to reconstructive surgery. No matter what, Dr. Bohley designs treatments to help lessen the emotional and physical impact of your breast cancer surgery.

With time, some sensation may return to your breasts and there will be an improvement in the appearance of scarring as well. You will start to notice results as the swelling goes down, which can take several weeks. In some instances, you may require additional surgery to achieve the desired results, as there may be some breast asymmetry or other side effects that appear after surgery. The key to the success of your surgery is to follow Dr. Bohley’s advice as to caring for your incisions and careful monitoring of your breasts for long-term health. Feel free to contact our office if you have any questions!


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Schedule a Breast Reconstruction Consultation

Breast cancer patients deserve to have unique, personalized care when it comes to delicate issues of mastectomies, lumpectomies, and other breast procedures that can severely alter their identity and impact not only their physical but also mental health. Dr. Michael Bohley understands the myriad of feelings you’re going through and will do everything he can to help you achieve the personalized, beautiful results you’re after with breast reconstruction. No matter your circumstance, there is likely a plastic surgery procedure that can help you feel like yourself again.

Start a conversation about breast reconstruction and learn about all your reconstructive options by contacting us today. You can schedule a consultation by calling us or contacting us online today.