As part of an academic medical center with the support of a leading-edge cancer center, The University of Kansas Health System is part of your comprehensive care team at the onset of your breast cancer journey. We ensure that every person knows their breast reconstruction options. Second opinions and patient-initiated plastic surgery consultations are also routinely provided and encouraged.
From implant-based and tissue-based reconstruction to nipple areola and surgical lymphedema treatment, our nationally recognized, board-certified physicians offer the most comprehensive breast reconstruction services to help women feel whole again.
What is breast reconstruction?
Reconstructive breast surgery is the process of recreating the breast following a single or double mastectomy (breast removal). Most breast reconstructions also include recreating the nipple, often with an areola tattoo. Breast reconstruction can also refer to reshaping the breast after a lumpectomy that leaves a visibly irregular breast contour.
Breast reconstruction can be performed using either breast implants or your own natural tissue to restore your breast profile. In some cases, implants may be combined with tissue-based reconstruction.
Who can have breast reconstruction?
The best candidates for breast reconstruction are in good physical and emotional health, and have realistic expectations about their results. Some women are better candidates for implant-based reconstruction than tissue-based reconstruction, and vice versa.
Every woman also has the choice not to pursue breast reconstruction, or to delay breast reconstruction for months or even years until she feels ready.
How does breast reconstruction work?
The University of Kansas Health System offers all forms of breast reconstruction. This includes both delayed breast reconstruction and immediate oncoplastic breast reconstruction surgery. Your surgeon and care team can help you determine which technique is right for you – including the choice of no reconstruction.
Benefits and risks of breast reconstruction
For many women, breast reconstruction can serve as the final step in their breast cancer journey. Breast reconstruction can offer the physical benefit of looking like your old self and the emotional benefit of feeling whole again after a mastectomy.
However, as with any surgery, there are risks associated with reconstructive breast surgery as well, such as infection, bleeding or adverse scarring. Using breast implants for reconstruction can lead to complications such as capsular contracture, the development of painful scar tissue around the implant. Finally, many women experience a period of emotional adjustment after breast reconstruction, including grieving the loss of their natural breast.
Your doctor will go over all the benefits and risks of breast implant reconstruction with you during your consultation so you can make the decision that's best for you.
What happens during breast reconstruction?
There are several different techniques your plastic surgeon may use during breast reconstruction. Sometimes, the breast reconstruction process can begin at the time of your mastectomy. In other cases, reconstruction is scheduled after the completion of your breast cancer treatment.
Once the surgery begins, your surgeon will restore your breast shape using saline or silicone implants, fatty tissue taken from your own body, or sometimes a combination of both. In the case of a single mastectomy, the new breast shape and size is based on creating symmetry with the remaining breast. Following a double mastectomy, some women choose a new breast size that's larger or smaller than their previous figure.
The recovery process after breast reconstruction takes several weeks, and getting used to your new breasts can take longer than the physical healing process.
Why choose us for breast reconstruction
More women choose The University of Kansas Health System for their breast reconstruction care than anywhere in the Kansas City area. Seven dedicated breast reconstruction surgeons, 4 experienced surgical nurses and a reconstructive microsurgery team support your care at 2 convenient locations. In tandem with an entire plastic surgery team, The University of Kansas Physicians, subspecialized and fellowship-trained, support your care and meet your needs.
Referring providers and patients also have access to the region’s only surgical lymphedema treatment program. Following treatment for breast cancer, some patients may be monitored for lymphedema, swelling of an arm following removal of a lymph node(s). Prevention clinics are available as well as surgical treatment. Our lymphedema Q&A and series of 8 educational videos will help you learn the causes of lymphedema and treatment options.