New methods in breast reconstruction
New reconstructive techniques are being developed all the time.
If your reconstruction surgeon thinks a new technique is suitable for you, ask them to tell you about their experience of using it, the benefits and limitations of the technique and the chances of problems occurring. It’s important that you talk over new techniques with your surgeon.
Acellular dermal matrices
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During implant breast reconstruction surgery, your surgeon may attach a natural tissue-like substance (called an acellular dermal matrix) to the chest (pectoral) muscle, to create a sling, which holds the lower part of the implant. It’s used to expand the muscle area and so avoids the need for tissue expansion.
Acellular matrices are made from human, pig (porcine) or cow (bovine) skin or the lining around the heart. They help to produce a more natural breast shape.
Acellular dermal matrices are relatively new and quite costly. They aren’t widely available but you can check with your surgeon to see if they use them.
After breast reconstruction there are sometimes dents or irregularities in the outline (contour) of the new breast. This can be improved by injecting fat (‘lipo’) into your breast to fill out the dent. This is a new procedure developed from liposuction techniques.
It can also be used to enlarge a breast and it is now more widely used in women having implant reconstructions to make them feel more natural.
Lipomodelling is a day-case procedure and involves taking fat from one part of your body, for example, the thigh or the abdomen, and injecting it into the breast. After the procedure, the area where the fat was taken from can be bruised and sore but this wears off quickly.
The procedure usually needs to be repeated a few times so that all the uneven areas in the breast can be smoothed out.
Lipomodelling isn’t usually carried out until the reconstructed breasts have fully healed. This usually takes about 6–12 months.
Your reconstruction surgeon can give you more detailed information about new procedures in breast reconstruction.