If you’re a woman considering breast reconstruction, chances are you have a great deal on your mind: what method is right for you, what the finished result will look like, and eagerness to feel like yourself again. What you may not think about right away is whether or not you should have surgery on your other, or contralateral, breast. At the Texas Center for Breast Reconstruction in Dallas, our board-certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Frederick Duffy, Jr. and Dr. Brice McKane, have noticed that surgery on the other breast is something our patients have done quite often. Of course, there are obvious reasons for choosing this surgery such as aesthetic appeal and symmetry, but some of the other reasons behind this may not become apparent until you dig a little deeper and learn more.
"Dr mckane was a god send to my husband. He went beyond what most doctors would have after my husband had cancer that left a huge open wound on his head. He gave my husband back his diginity."- Anonymous / UCompareHealthcare / Sep 18, 2016
"Dr McKane has an excellent bed side manner. He is thorough and informative and straight forward. He is compassionate and sympathetic to cancer patients and he did an exceptional breast DIEP flap and reconstruction after my bilateral mastectomy. I would recommend Dr Mckane to anyone needing a plastic surgeon."- T.L. / Healthgrades / Jul 29, 2016
"I have seen Dr. Duffy several times since having my reconstructive surgery for breast cancer in the mid 80's by another doctor. My experience with Dr. Duffy have been awesome. He listens to your concerns and then he addresses them. By the time I leave his office I feel so good in knowing what the next steps are."- B.T. / Vitals / Jul 05, 2016
"Phenomenal physician. Knows his stuff, always takes time to listen and talk with you, even if busy."- Anonymous / Healthgrades / May 09, 2016
"Dr. Duffy was my PS when I had my BMX w/immediate DIEP surgery over 8 years ago...I absolutely believe he is one of the best in the nation...and would do it again, even though I had complications ..."- D.A. / Vitals / Mar 22, 2016
Reasons for Surgery
At the Texas Center for Breast Reconstruction, we pride ourselves on providing you with the best care and most advanced methods of treatment, but despite this, certain anatomical factors can make it difficult to achieve symmetry between a newly reconstructed breast and the healthy natural breast that remains. For patients who have a unilateral mastectomy, it may be necessary or desirable to have surgery on the contralateral (other) breast in order to make the breasts symmetric. Some reasons why you may want to consider this include:
- If you have fairly large breasts, you may not be able to achieve the same size in the newly reconstructed breast and may want a breast reduction in the other breast.
- You may choose to increase your breast size overall, and therefore, have an implant placed in your remaining natural breast to match the newly reconstructed one.
- If your breasts have become ptotic (droopy) with age, newly reconstructed breasts are often more youthful in appearance, so you may wish to have a mastopexy (breast lift) done on the natural breast.
During your consultation, your surgeon will partner with you to address your concerns and provide the best possible outcome. Fortunately, in most cases, Texas State Law requires insurance to cover surgery done on the contralateral breast for symmetry, whether this involves a reduction, augmentation, or mastopexy. We can discuss all of this during a consultation.
Dallas breast reconstruction patients have a variety of options that may affect the resulting symmetry of the reconstructed and contralateral breasts. Your surgeon is your best resource to match the nuances of your situation to the right treatment path, but as a quick reference, here is an overview of the most commonly used methods:
- DIEP Flap Reconstruction: this method involves the harvesting of a “flap” of tissue from your abdominal area to use in the construction of a new breast. This method bypasses the potential complications of implants by using your own tissue; however, the size of the resulting breast is dependent on the amount of excess tissue your body has to give.
- Breast Reconstruction with Tissue Expanders: patients who either prefer reconstruction with implants or lack sufficient body tissue for flap reconstruction often use this method. A tissue expander is inserted beneath the skin and enlarged over time to stretch and grow enough natural skin at the breast site to accommodate an implant. Implant type (silicone or saline) and shape are determined by you and your surgeon prior to your procedure.
- Latissimus Flap Reconstruction: this method harvests a tissue flap from the shoulder blade region of the back and is typically used in tandem with an implant to create the desired volume. This is ideal for patients who prefer the look of natural tissue but lack sufficient excess to create it with tissue alone.
- Other Flap Reconstructions: similar to the DIEP and Latissimus flap reconstructions, other methods, including the SIEA, SGAP, and TRAM flaps, utilize excess body tissue from various areas on your body to construct a new breast. The TRAM flap makes use of abdominal tissue like the DIEP but lacks certain benefits of the DIEP, making it seldom used in our practice.
Options for Other Breast
When it comes to matching the opposite breast to the newly constructed breast and improving its appearance, there are several options that a patient and surgeon can discuss. Some of the most common include:
- Breast Implants: with breast augmentation surgery, a patient can choose between saline or silicone implants to enlarge the opposite breast, if there’s insufficient volume. The surgeon will work with the patient to determine which type is most appropriate, along with the best size, shape, and texture.
- Breast Lift: a breast lift will improve the appearance of a sagging breast to lift it to a higher, perkier position. Whether the breast is sagging due to aging, genetics, breast-feeding, or weight loss, the surgeon will remove extraneous skin, and lift the remaining skin for a more proportioned, shaped breast.
- Breast Reduction: in breast reduction surgery, an excessively large breast will be made to be more proportionate to the reconstructed breast. Excessive breast tissue and fat will be removed and the breast will be reshaped. The resulting breast will be smaller and lighter in weight.
Plan Your Procedure
- Procedure Recovery Location
Schedule a Consultation
Regardless of the type of breast reconstruction procedure that you have, the opposite breast may need to be addressed to match it to the newly reconstructed breast. A patient may need to enlarge, minimize, or lift the breast. If any of these situations apply to you, you should schedule a consultation with one of our plastic surgeons, Dr. Duffy or Dr. McKane. They can help determine the best procedure for you to leave you with symmetrical, natural-looking breasts. Feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation as soon as possible.