Breast Reconstruction Surgery in Dallas with Dr. Bryan Armijo
Today, many patients who receive a breast cancer diagnosis go on to live healthy, happy lives after treatment. Nevertheless, recovering from breast cancer surgery presents a unique set of choices and challenges. Following a lumpectomy or mastectomy, patients have the option of pursuing breast reconstruction surgery to restore breasts to their prior shape and size.
Breast reconstruction can help those affected by breast cancer heal physically and emotionally by reducing reminders of their illness and providing them with a sense of freedom and wholeness. Experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Bryan Armijo offers several different state-of-the-art breast reconstructive treatment options in Dallas.
Our entire team is here to help you along every step of your journey. If you’re interested in learning more about breast reconstruction, read on. If you have questions about this procedure or any of our popular offerings, including the mommy makeover and our non-surgical cosmetic procedures, your next step is to schedule a no-obligation consultation with Dr. Armijo.
During this meeting, Dr. Armijo will listen to your goals and concerns. Together, you’ll go over each option in detail and formulate a reconstructive surgical plan best suited for your needs.
HOW DR. ARMIJO PERFORMS BREAST RECONSTRUCTION
Dr. Armijo may perform breast reconstruction using breast implants or the transfer of fat and skin to create a new breast mound (a process known as flap-based or autologous reconstruction). Sometimes, surgeons combine flap-based reconstruction with the placement of implants; the goal of doing so is generally to achieve better symmetry when the patient has naturally large breasts.
Both flap-based and implant-based reconstruction have unique advantages, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with each type of procedure before you decide.
Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction
If you choose implants for breast reconstruction, Dr. Armijo will place tissue expanders after your mastectomy. This expander is a special type of implant fitted with a small port. Through this port, you’ll have saline solution added to each implant every few weeks over a few months. Doing so causes the skin to expand, gradually creating a new breast pocket. Once you are patient happy with the size, Dr. Armijo will remove the tissue expanders and insert durable, form-stable permanent implants made of cohesive silicone gel.
Some patients prefer implant-based breast reconstruction because it has a shorter recovery time than flap-based reconstruction and only involves one incision site. Most people who have implant-based reconstruction feel better within just one week, whereas patients who have flap-based reconstruction may need two to three weeks to heal.
Implant reconstruction is also ideal for slim patients who may not have enough excess fat to permit a fat transfer. However, not all women like the look or feel of silicone implants. The choice is a deeply personal one through which Dr. Armijo will help guide you.
DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
Flap breast reconstruction uses tissue taken from the patient’s body to restore breast fullness and symmetry after mastectomy. This technique produces reconstructed breasts that look and feel natural, so it’s perfect for women with smaller breasts who would like to avoid the use of implants. Even with implants, constructing a flap to cover them can produce favorable results, especially when the patient had a large amount of breast tissue removed with the mastectomy.
Dr. Armijo is one of the few plastic and reconstructive surgeons in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to offer DIEP flap reconstruction microsurgery. During DIEP flap surgery, he’ll take a section of skin and fatty tissue from the abdomen and transfer it to the breasts, where it recreates the breast mound. This technique, which requires advanced surgical training and skill, is superior to conventional TRAM flap surgery because it doesn’t require the removal of muscle from the donor site.
This approach greatly minimizes patient discomfort, shortens recovery time, and lowers the risk of complications. Dr. Armijo performs DIEP flap reconstruction microsurgery at both Medical City Frisco and the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Allen.
Fat Transfer Breast Reconstruction
In some cases, Dr. Armijo will use your body fat in conjunction with implant-based reconstruction, which allows for a more natural-looking slope from the chest wall to the implant.
Though fat transfer has distinct advantages, it’s not without caveats. Sometimes, you might need more than one fat transfer to achieve optimal results, which extends total recovery time. Likewise, the body can reabsorb injected fat cells over time, causing the breasts to shrink slightly.
Regardless of which breast reconstruction method you choose, Dr. Armijo will communicate with your breast surgeon and oncologist throughout the treatment process. That way, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the best care from both a medical and reconstructive standpoint.
Immediate Vs. Delayed Breast Reconstruction
Generally, Dr. Armijo performs breast reconstruction surgery only after the patient has been declared cancer-free by their oncologist. This approach is known as delayed breast reconstruction, and it’s usually the safest approach to treatment.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Our team is ready to help you with any questions you may have! Contact us to learn more about a procedure or to discuss the next steps. We look forward to meeting you.
Arrange a Breast Reconstruction Consultation in Dallas with Dr. Bryan Armijo
As one of Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute’s leading reconstructive breast surgeons, Dr. Bryan Armijo has helped many breast cancer survivors put cancer behind them and move forward with hope. Along with his team of compassionate staff, he accompanies his patients throughout their journey, providing them with the support and surgical care they need to have a comfortable and empowering reconstructive experience. If you would like to start exploring your options for breast reconstruction, contact Dr. Armijo’s office at (214) 540-1434 to arrange your consultation.
BREAST RECONSTRUCTION FAQs
Do I Need Breast Reconstruction?
Deciding to undergo breast reconstruction is a deeply personal choice. There is never a medical need for this elective surgery. Many women choose to have a mastectomy without reconstruction afterward.
Dr. Armijo and our team will help work with you to determine if breast reconstruction is the right option for you. During your consultation, we’ll go over all the nuances, benefits, and critical considerations to keep in mind before making your decision.
If you do opt for breast reconstruction after a breast cancer-related mastectomy, federal law mandates every insurance plan must cover your surgery.
Who's a Good Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?
Nearly all women who have had mastectomies are good candidates for one of our available breast reconstruction methods. The variety of approaches and techniques allows Dr. Armijo to ensure you receive the highest level of care while crafting beautiful and natural-looking results.
We’ll discuss your medical history, anatomy, and cosmetic goals to determine which type of breast reconstruction is best for your unique case.
How Long Do Implants Last?
While implants are durable and provide beautiful results, they do not last a lifetime. It’s also essential to understand both saline and silicone implants have a small chance of rupturing or leaking. Saline implants will cause a gradual, but noticeable, deflation of the implant. Your body will safely absorb the saline solution over the next week as you notice your implant shrink.
Silicone implants, on the other hand, may change in shape or appearance, but normally there will be no noticeable change. To detect a leak, patients will need an MRI. Both silicone and saline implant rupture rates are approximately 1% per year, meaning implants pose some risk of rupturing after placement.
We’ll schedule regular checkups after your breast reconstruction to ensure the health and sustainability of your implants. Most of our patients opt to replace their implants after 10 to 20 years. At this point, Dr. Armijo can help you pursue breast augmentation or a breast lift to provide further rejuvenation.
Why Do I Need Tissue Expanders?
Implant placement after a mastectomy is quite different than a typical cosmetic breast augmentation. During cosmetic augmentation surgery, women’s breast tissue and skin are fully intact. These tissues allow surgeons to safely place implants without overstretching the skin.
Mastectomies require your surgeon to remove both the nipple/areola complex and some of your breast skin. The reduction of skin makes immediate implant placement unfeasible. Tissue expanders allow your body the necessary time to accommodate breast implants and safely create a natural look.
Can I Get Implants If I Still Need Chemotherapy?
Being on a regimen of chemotherapy doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from getting implants. Dr. Armijo carefully chooses surgery dates around your chemotherapy treatment plan. In some cases, we may postpone removing tissue expanders and placing the implants until you’ve fully recovered from chemotherapy.
Dr. Armijo will work with your oncologist to help decide the safest treatment plan possible. It may take longer for your incisions to heal if you are undergoing chemotherapy, but this is normal and expected.
How Much Downtime Will I Need for Recovery?
In most cases, breast reconstruction with implants patients plan to take four weeks off work to allow for recovery from the mastectomy and tissue expander placement. After your second surgery, when Dr. Armijo removes the tissue expanders and places your final implants, you can expect to take one week to recover. Most of our patients can work during the tissue expansion period.
DIEP flap patients generally need four to six weeks off work for recovery.
Once you’ve had all your drains removed, you’ve regained a full range of arm motion, and you are no longer taking prescription pain medication, it is safe to resume driving. Most patients reach this point around three to four weeks following mastectomy surgery.
What are the options available to breast cancer patients?
After a mastectomy, there are three choices to recreate the breast mound:
- Existing fat and muscle tissue grafted from another part of the body
- A combination of the two.
About 80 percent of these choices involve implants that commonly employ a two-step process. First, Dr. Armijo will stretch the remaining skin and subcutaneous tissue with expanders. Second, he will insert the breast implant into the capsule that is developed by the body naturally, in response to the initial surgery. If he uses existing tissue, popular donor sites are the back, thighs, or abdomen.
How long does this breast reconstruction process last?
The duration of the operation depends on these factors:
- Body type
- Type of surgery
- Personal preferences
- Whether or not nipples will be reconstructed
Typically, the process from consultation to recovery will take nine months to a year. If there are other therapies the patient requires, like chemo or radiation, the reconstruction could take longer.
Must I opt for surgery immediately after a lumpectomy or mastectomy?
Most patients elect to have their reconstruction at the time of a mastectomy. Some women choose to have it concurrently with a lumpectomy. Others want to wait for various reasons. There are times when a woman is not a suitable candidate for breast reconstruction during a mastectomy or lumpectomy because of medical issues, smoking history, or the progressions of their cancers. You will have the chance to discuss all of these considerations during your consultation.
Is the breast reconstruction process painful?
Truthfully, there is discomfort during the breast reconstruction process. Although painful, medications can manage your discomfort. During the weekly injections to expand implants gradually, there may be some tightness and discomfort, but most of our patients describe it as quite tolerable and worth it.
What are the health risks of breast reconstruction or expansion?
Though not common, there are some risks associated with breast reconstruction or expansion. They include:
- Tightness and pain
- Implant infection
- Capsular contracture (scar tissue around the capsule)
- Need for revision surgery or implant exchange
There have been studies linking implants to Breast Implant-Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. For patients with implants, particularly those with a textured shell, there is a lifetime risk, although it is still very rare.
Will my healthcare insurance defer costs for breast reconstruction?
Thankfully, Yes. By law, insurance companies are required to cover the operation as dictated by the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998.