Breast reconstruction surgery offers women the option of reshaping or rebuilding their breasts following breast cancer surgery. At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, we perform leading-edge breast reconstruction. Our plastic surgeons work together with our breast surgeons to provide you with the best cosmetic outcome possible.
What Is Breast Reconstruction?
After breast cancer surgery, some women wish to reshape or rebuild their breasts. To reconstruct one or both breasts, a plastic surgeon may use artificial implants or transplanted tissue to achieve natural-looking breasts.
Surgeons perform reconstruction during breast cancer surgery (immediate reconstruction), after breast surgery (delayed reconstruction) or in stages (delayed-immediate reconstruction). If you wish to have breast reconstruction, the timing of the surgery may depend on:
Breast Reconstruction Surgery: The Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Advantage
We offer comprehensive breast cancer care that includes high-level plastic surgery. At Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, you can expect:
- Advanced reconstruction techniques: We perform both implant-based and complex free flap reconstruction. You have access to the newest methods of breast reconstruction in a community setting.
- Reconstruction expertise: Penn Medicine is a national leader in autologous reconstruction, which uses the body’s own tissue to restore the breast. We collaborate with our colleagues in Philadelphia for complicated breast reconstruction.
- Team-approach: Our plastic surgeons and breast cancer surgeons work closely together. Our goal is to get you the best possible cosmetic outcome with the least amount of time in surgery. Meet our breast cancer team.
- Surgery close to home: We provide all your surgical care in Lancaster. Your preoperative appointments take place at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute or Downtown Pavilion, while breast cancer surgeries take place in Lancaster at the Suburban Outpatient Pavilion or Lancaster General Hospital. Learn more about our cancer care locations.
Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgeries We Perform
You have many options when it comes to breast reconstruction. We’ll examine your health, personal preferences and lifestyle to guide your decision. Whether you decide to have no reconstruction, delay reconstruction or have a specific type of reconstruction in mind, we offer the education and support you need to feel confident in your choice.
Your options for breast reconstruction include:
DIEP and Other Autologous (Free Flap) Breast Reconstruction
Free flap breast reconstruction uses tissue from your own body (including belly, thigh and back) to rebuild the shape of your breast. Autologous reconstruction results in natural-looking breasts that should require minimal, if any, follow-up care. Types of free flap reconstruction we perform include:
- DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator flap), which uses tissue and blood vessels from the belly
- TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous) flap, which uses tissue, blood vessels and some muscle from the belly
- GAP (gluteal artery perforator) flap, which uses tissue from the buttocks
- TUG (transverse upper gracilis) flap, which uses tissue from the upper thigh
Free flap reconstruction is a complex surgery. It involves two areas of the body: the chest and wherever the tissue is located. We perform DIEP reconstruction whenever possible to avoid transplanting muscle and make recovery a little easier.
Reconstruction Using Breast Implants
Breast implants offer another option for breast reconstruction. A plastic surgeon inserts a synthetic implant filled with either saline (saltwater) or silicone gel. Implant reconstruction can happen at the same time as breast cancer surgery, but we typically complete it in two stages – using a tissue expander to prepare the breast before inserting the implant.
When compared with free flap reconstruction, implants offer an easier initial surgery and shorter recovery. But over time, implants are more prone to complications and may require additional procedures.
Reconstruction After Lumpectomy
Sometimes we need to partially reconstruct the breast after a lumpectomy in order to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result. These partial reconstructions (called oncoplastic procedures) may involve reshaping the breast tissue or reducing breast tissue in women with larger breasts.
Breast Revision Surgery
We perform breast revisions for women who had previous breast reconstruction, whether at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health or elsewhere. Revisions are done for both free flap and implant-based reconstruction. Reasons for breast revisions after reconstruction include:
- Breast pain or discomfort associated with a previous reconstruction
- Changes in size, shape or position of the breast
- Complications related to breast implants
- Lump or firm area in the breast
Request an Appointment for Breast Reconstruction
To make an appointment at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute, call 717-544-9400 or request a callback using our online form.