Breast Reconstruction

Nowhere is our team-oriented approach more evident than in our approach to breast reconstruction surgery. At The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Kitchener-Waterloo, we are home to a regional breast reconstruction program serving patients from London, Guelph, Cambridge and throughout Southwestern Ontario. Our surgeons, one of which is female, are experienced in advanced microsurgical and breast reconstruction techniques, and we offer a range of advanced options.

If you have had or will have a mastectomy to treat or prevent breast cancer, our Waterloo surgeons can help you understand your breast reconstruction options. Request a consultation online to meet personally with one of our surgeons, or call our office at (519) 804-9822 to schedule an appointment.

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Is breast reconstruction right for me?

The first step in making decisions about breast reconstruction surgery is to understand all of your options — including not having reconstruction. Our breast reconstruction specialists provide details about the range of surgical options available and help you understand what can be quite complex information. We've developed excellent relationships with general surgeons as part of our regional breast reconstruction program at Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH), so your surgical plan is seamlessly coordinated with your medical team.

All breast reconstruction surgery performed at CMH is covered by health insurance.

What are my options for breast reconstruction?

Our surgeons offer all surgical options for breast reconstruction, including the most advanced techniques available. The option that best suits your needs depends on a combination of your personal preferences, medical diagnosis, and physical characteristics.

Breast reconstruction surgery is divided into 2 categories:

  • Immediate breast reconstruction: Reconstructive surgery occurs immediately after the general surgeon completes your mastectomy.
  • Delayed breast reconstruction: Reconstructive surgery is a separate operation that may be scheduled months or years after the mastectomy.

Each option is available to our patients.

Breast Reconstruction Techniques

The goal of breast reconstruction is to have breasts that are very similar to the shape and symmetry of natural breasts. This can be done using breast implants, or using skin and fat tissue taken from another part of your body (called an autologous flap technique).

Breast reconstruction with implants: Women choose to have breast implants for a number of reasons. Some patients don't have enough fat in another part of their body to make a flap technique viable; others prefer the more streamlined procedure. There are 2 options for breast reconstruction with implants:

  • Direct-to-implant reconstruction: This single-stage technique is becoming more common as skin-sparing and nipple-sparing mastectomy techniques are used more often. In a direct-to-implant procedure, your surgeon inserts the implant immediately after the mastectomy. The surgeon creates a pocket for the implant using the pectoral muscle and an acellular tissue matrix.
  • Breast reconstruction with tissue expander: Patients with less elastic skin can have a tissue expander inserted at the time of their mastectomy. An expander is similar to an implant that's not completely filled. The surgeon fills the expander during a series of appointments, gradually stretching the breast skin until a suitable pocket is created. The expander is then exchanged for a long-term breast implant during a second operation.

Autologous flap breast reconstruction: Some women prefer to use skin and fat tissue (and sometimes muscle) from another part of the body instead of breast implants. The most common donor sites are the abdomen, the upper back, or the buttocks. The tissue is shaped into a breast mound and may look and feel more natural than a breast implant.

  • DIEP flap technique: This is an advanced technique that few plastic surgeons offer because it requires specialized training in microsurgical procedures. The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator) is similar to a TRAM flap procedure, which uses fat and skin tissue from the abdomen, but spares the abdominal muscles. This shortens the recovery time needed in most cases.

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What should I expect after surgery?

Recovery following breast reconstruction using an implant or tissue expander is generally shorter than if the surgeon performs an autologous flap technique. That's because flap procedures involve 2 separate surgical sites and multiple incisions. In either case, patients who undergo immediate reconstruction typically spend 2 to 3 days in the hospital before returning home. Recovery times vary from patient to patient, but expect it to take 3 to 6 weeks before you can return to your normal routine.

The expectations following breast reconstruction surgery depend primarily on the type of procedure performed. If you undergo immediate breast reconstruction, whether using an implant, tissue expander, or a flap technique, you will have breast mounds when you wake up in the recovery room. That's an important psychological benefit for many patients.

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Meet Our Surgeons

The talented, experienced plastic surgeons at our Kitchener-Waterloo clinic have the advanced training to create exceptional, natural-looking results that meet the individual needs of our patients. The collaborative nature of our practice benefits patients in many ways.

Dr. Robert Shenker Dr. Stephanie Ma

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