What Is Breast Reconstruction?
When you are searching for the right doctor to perform a breast reconstruction, we understand at Vinyard Plastic Surgery (VIPS) how important it is to choose a surgeon who has great skill and experience. Our board-certified cosmetic plastic surgeon, Dr. William Vinyard, would like to take this journey with you after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. We are very fortunate to have Dr. Vinyard, an advanced fellowship-trained reconstructive surgeon, in Port Saint Lucie, FL to offer you multiple options in breast reconstruction. With so many prospects for reconstructive surgery alongside breast cancer treatment, it is very normal to be overwhelmed by all the decisions you have to make concerning your health.
With personalized treatment options available, we want you to feel empowered as you make decisions to reestablish your sense of self. Your overall health, surgical history, breast cancer treatment, and how you want your breasts to look will all be taken into consideration as Dr. Vinyard designs a breast reconstruction plan for you. If you have not had your breast removal surgery, Dr. Vinyard will work in tandem with your general surgeon. It is possible to have a mastectomy and a reconstruction together — there would be no time where you would live without breasts. This can be a blessing to many women wanting natural-looking breasts immediately after surgery. From start to finish, your breast reconstruction can take about a year (or more) to complete. To get the process started today, please call and schedule your consultation with Dr. Vinyard as soon as it is convenient for you.
VIPS Surgical Approaches
Dr. Vinyard can provide you with two different surgical approaches to breast reconstruction that can be categorized as either autologous or alloplastic breast reconstruction. Autologous breast reconstruction uses your own skin, fat, and muscle from another area of your body (typically from the back or tummy region) to create a breast mound. Alloplastic breast reconstruction uses an expandable breast implant called a tissue expander to allow your body to make room for the new breast. The tissue expander will be filled in our office on a weekly basis until you are pleased with the increased size of your breast. At that point, the tissue expander will be exchanged for a softer more natural appearing breast implant. After the completion of either the autologous or alloplastic breast reconstruction, you will also have the option of having a nipple reconstruction.
"Bi-lateral Mastectomy Reconstruction - Fortunately, I was given Dr. Vinyards card from my breast surgeon along with two other recommendations upon my initial diagnosis. I met with all three doctors and chose Dr. Vinyard after our first meeting. He spent a great deal of time with my husband and me explaining the procedure, options and outcomes. His demeanor, professionalism and kindness were beyond our expectation. He prepared..."- S. / RealSelf / Oct 16, 2018
"Dr Vinyard Became Part of Our Family - Dr. Vinyard is incredible. He has the best demeanor, genuinely cares for his clients, and is so dedicated and precise. My results were fantastic - the other folks on the medical team were shocked by how beautiful and natural everything looked. Top notch.We initially chose him because he graciously made time for me, answered all of our questions when scared, and put us at ease.Dr. Vinyard..."- R. / RealSelf / Oct 09, 2018
"Dr. Vinyard is the reason I am alive today. My journey started with him and still is ongoing. He has left the group practice he was a part of and has decided to open his own practice in St. Lucie West...I am so excited for him (wish he did it earlier would have saved me many trips to Palm Springs. ??) He is beyond just an amazing Plastic Surgeon...he cares about his patients and always takes time to make sure his patients get the best care. I had numerous complications throughout my breast cancer journey and he was always there to be the voice I sometimes lost. His offices are currently being built and should be up and running by November. I could never thank him enough for what he has done for me. He is the best!!"- M.H. / Facebook / Sep 02, 2018
"Dr. Vinyard exchanged my breast implants and they look amazing! He also made my abdominoplasty scar look so much better, I had my original abdominoplasy over 10 years ago with another surgeon who came highly recommended, my scar became widened immediately and I was always self conscious of the way it looked. I had been looking for a surgeon to revise my scar for a long time but never found a result I was truly happy with until I saw Dr.Vinyards before and after photos. I imme...diately knew I was going to have him do my scar revision. I am so happy I found him! Dr.Vinyard took the time to make sure the scar was even and has a special technique to make the scar as thin as possible, I’m so happy with my results and I highly recommend him! He is a great surgeon and very OCD about giving the best cosmetic result that we all want! And the consults are free! Thank you Dr. Vinyard so very much helping me get me self confidence back!!! ??"- S.L. / Facebook / Aug 31, 2018
"Most Amazing Reconstructive Dr and Staff - Could not ask for a better plastic surgeon! Dr. Vinyard is a top class Dr specializing in bilateral mastectomies reconstruction! My results are 100% better than ever expected and my Breasts are better looking now than originally! Not only is Dr.Vinyard a master surgeon, respectful, sweet, compassionate and funny but his staff is also unbelievably AWESOME. Sofia and Pauola are so amazingly..."- L. / RealSelf / Jul 22, 2018
Who Is A Candidate?
Breast reconstruction is a very personalized procedure. Every patient will have a thorough consultation with Dr. Vinyard to create their treatment plan based on their needs, concerns, and appropriate options. He will take the time necessary to get to know you, your case, and your expectations during this time. As this can be a time-consuming and emotional process, please know that we are here to listen and accommodate what you will need in order to accomplish this surgery. Dr. Vinyard may also want input from the other doctors on your medical team so that he can give you the best results, especially if it could impact your recovery. Ideal candidates for breast reconstruction should get approval from the oncologist who diagnosed your breast cancer and/or the breast removal surgeon to make sure this is the right time to do this procedure. We want to make sure you are healthy and suitable for a complex surgery like breast reconstruction.
When you are in our office for your consultation, we will also take photos of you for documentation and surgical planning. Dr. Vinyard will then begin your consultation, which will consist of a physical exam, specific exam of your breasts, and commence with a comprehensive review of your options for breast reconstruction. Afterward, you will meet with the patient care coordinator who will discuss dates that are available for your breast reconstruction. You can expect to spend at least an hour and a half at this appointment.
What's The Technique?
There are a variety of techniques available today for breast reconstruction with many factors that Dr. Vinyard considers when determining the technique that will produce your best results. Some of these factors include cancer diagnosis, reconstruction timing, whether you will use natural tissue or implants, and what nipple reconstruction will be a part of the process.
While autologous flap procedures are usually very successful and a common method for breast reconstruction, you may be able to rebuild your breast(s) with tissue expansion. This involves placing a tissue expander under the breast wall and then slowly filling it with saline over the course of 4 – 6 months until the skin is properly stretched. After a flap has been created or the skin is stretched through an expander, you can then decide whether you want to use a natural fat transfer or (saline or silicone) breast implants to create the volume and shape you want. After your breast reconstruction surgery, you may want to improve the appearance with nipple and areola reconstruction. There are numerous procedures to restore the nipple-areola complex so that it looks more natural.
In order to rebuild the breast with your own tissues, there must be enough to harvest to adequately cover the breast mound. Flap procedures accomplish this by using your own fat, muscle, and skin to create, cover, and build the mound. It typically requires 1 – 3 hours for Dr. Vinyard to reconstruct each breast.
The most common flap techniques are:
- TRAM Flap
This method uses skin, fat, and muscle from your stomach to create the breast. The tissue used to create the new breast can be detached from the abdomen or it may remain attached to the donor location, keeping the original blood supply.
- DIEP Flap
Like a TRAM Flap, a DIEP flap removes fat, skin, and blood vessels from the lower stomach, but it doesn't take the muscle. The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap removes fat and skin from the belly to form the breast mound then uses microsurgery to attach the blood vessels to the chest.
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap
This method uses muscle, skin, and fat from your back. During this procedure, the tissue is moved from the back to the mastectomy site through a surgically created tunnel and remains attached to the donor location, which leaves the original blood supply intact.
- PAP Flap
Another flap alternative is the PAP (profunda artery perforator) flap. This technique takes skin, fat, and muscle tissue from your inner thigh to create your breast(s).
- LTP Flap
While the TRAM flap tends to be one of the more common methods used during reconstruction, sometimes there is not enough muscle, skin, and fat that can be taken from the abdominal area. In these situations, the LTP flap may be used, which takes tissue from the lateral thigh area.
- Composite Flap
Also known as a composite stacked flap, this method combines flaps from different areas on your body to reconstruct the breast.
Regardless of the surgical technique, your reconstruction will be performed in the hospital so that your recovery can be monitored by a post-op nursing team.
Since breast reconstruction is a staged procedure, it may take up to a year to complete the whole process. You will be able to see the final result about three months after your last procedure in your breast reconstruction process. Ongoing monitoring of your breast health with mammograms and breast exams are important and recommended for your long-term health.
Each patient's recovery varies slightly depending upon their past medical history, current medical treatment, and approach to breast reconstruction. On average, you will be able to return to most of your regular activities in about two weeks like sedentary work and very light tasks around the house. Due to the unique nature of each patient's recovery, Dr. Vinyard and our staff will walk you through what to expect at each follow-up visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does breast reconstruction surgery cost?
Breast reconstruction is typically covered by insurance and you will be responsible for your specialists' co-pay and coinsurance. At your consultation, Dr. Vinyard will listen to your needs and goals before crafting your custom reconstruction plan. Once this is done, he can talk to you about cost estimates, payment methods, and low-interest financing.
Does insurance cover my surgery?
The WHCRA (Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act) of 1998 requires insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction surgery. If you have insurance, someone from VIPS will help with your policy and coverage. We will also help you submit needed information and paperwork to your insurance.
Which technique should I choose?
There is no single technique that is right for everyone. The best reconstruction for you will depend on your needs, goals, and body. If you are more comfortable with a certain technique, please bring it up in your appointment with Dr. Vinyard. During your consultation, Dr. Vinyard can go over your options, including both implants and autologous flaps, so you understand the benefits and challenges of both before you decide on your treatment plan. We are here to help. Dr. Vinyard will do his best to give you natural-looking results with compassionate care throughout this process.
What about nipple reconstruction?
Reconstruction of the nipple-areola complex is usually performed as a secondary plastic surgery if it is not included as an immediate nipple-sparing breast reconstruction. Subsequent procedures are usually considered outpatient at a later date.
Should I have reconstruction with my mastectomy or wait?
When you choose to have breast reconstruction is a great question. Some patients choose to have their reconstruction performed at the same time as their mastectomy, while some patients prefer to wait. Dr. Vinyard recommends you schedule a consultation after your cancer diagnosis so you can begin learning about your options and when you may want reconstruction surgery. If you decide to have reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy, Dr. Vinyard can work with your oncologist/general surgeon to plan your surgery.
While the breast reconstruction process can be lengthy, it is considered one of the most worthwhile cosmetic surgeries for our patients at VIPS. You deserve extraordinary care with natural-looking results. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, have had trauma to the chest, or were born with a defect that affects the size or shape of your breasts, we invite you to call our Port Saint Lucie, FL office and schedule your consultation with Dr. Vinyard.
Plan Your Procedure
- Recovery Time
- 1 – 4 Weeks
- Average Procedure Time
- Post-op Follow-up
- 1 – 3 Days
- Procedure Recovery Location