Q&A – Ask the Doctor

Q:  
I have an implant from reconstruction 7 years ago. I do not have breast symmetry as the other breast was a TRAM flap reconstruction. I would, however, like to have symmetry – how can this be achieved?

A:
Great question! You have several options to improve breast symmetry. We could simply “fat graft” the TRAM flap reconstruction to improve the size and enhance the shape of the breast mound. In fat grafting, fatty tissue is removed from other parts of your body – usually your thighs, belly and buttocks – by liposuction. The tissue is then processed into liquid and injected into the breast area to recreate/enhance the breast. This technique is especially helpful when trying to improve the symmetry between an implant reconstruction and autologous reconstruction.

If your implant is currently under the muscle, this can be revised. The implant can be re-placed in front of the muscle with a full ADM (Acellular Dermal Matrix, specially preserved cadaver skin – AlloDerm® is most commonly used brand) wrap. This allows much better control of implant position, and often helps create better projection and shape. The main complication is that you can sometimes see more rippling of the skin than you typically do with an under-the-muscle implant, but not necessarily. It is also possible that simply revising your current implant reconstruction could produce improvement, but we have less control with that method. 

Finally, it may be possible to have the implant replaced with your own tissue. You might consider using another area of the body, such as the buttock or thigh, to replace the implant completely. One option would be the SGAP (Superior Gluteal Artery Perforator). Breast reconstruction with the GAP flap involves moving a segment of skin and fat from the buttock to recreate a breast mound shape after the removal of the breast tissue (i.e., mastectomy defect). This involves the disconnection of the tissues from the gluteal muscles and surrounding gluteal tissue. (We DO NOT take the muscle.) The tissue is then transplanted into the breast skin envelope. To keep the flap alive, its blood supply must be restored by microsurgery, a procedure that attaches its blood vessels to recipient blood vessels in the chest. 

I hope this information helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions. 
 
Lindsey Weaver, FNP-C
East Cooper Plastic Surgery

The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction

Phone: (843) 849-8418

Fax: (843) 849-8419

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