During the visit, we discussed whether or not insurance would cover reconstruction of the left breast which does not have cancer. This whole insurance situation has been very stressful, one has to be their own advocate and stay aware. Anyway, she described to me the process, a 3-step reconstruction which will take nearly a year for completion.
Immediately at the mastectomy operation, the plastic surgeon comes in to begin reconstruction, and in lay terms, to me, that means that she inserts “tissue expanders” which will “grow” as she fills them with saline solution in future visits. These “fillings” will cause the tissue to expand so that permanent silicone gel implants may be placed in the future.
The tissue expanders are placed under the pectoral muscles to give a smooth appearance.
After the expanders are filled to the appropriate size, we wait FIVE MONTHS before the actual, permanent implants can be placed.
Permanent implant placement will require another surgery, but not as long, just a matter of removing the temporary expanders and replacing with the permanent implants. I do not recall how long of recovery time is required before Step 3 – Nipple reconstruction.
Nipple reconstruction will take place at some point after recovery from the permanent implant procedure. I am not sure how long the surgery will take, nor do I know the recovery time.
After the Nipple is reconstructed, tattooing takes place to give the appearance of the areola. Here, breastreconstruction.org is a site that gives in-depth information on reconstruction in general as well as the nipple tatooing procedure. Photos of prior patients’ results are stunning! Unbelievable and beautiful!