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Breast cancer will touch the lives of 1 in 8 women. The American Cancer Society estimates that 232,400 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year.1 While advances in early detection and aggressive treatment have improved our ability to treat this disease, breast reconstruction allows us to complete the healing process by restoring the post-mastectomy breast to its natural appearance.
The UCLA Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery offers immediate breast reconstruction as an option for women undergoing mastectomies. Our plastic surgeons provide consultations in conjunction with general surgeons and surgical oncologists, incorporating reconstruction into a patient's surgical treatment plan; this ensures patients achieve an optimal cosmetic and psychological outcome once they are cancer-free. Appointments are available in Westwood and in Santa Monica.
The reconstructive techniques available to a patient will depend upon a number of different factors (age, anatomy, medical history, history of radiation therapy, etc.) but the majority of patients will be able to choose between a breast reconstruction utilizing silicone or saline implants and microvascular free-flap reconstruction. Most women have a comfortable familiarity with breast implants and the aesthetic results they can achieve. A free-flap reconstruction uses skin and fat transferred from the stomach to reconstruct a patient's breast. The techniques used at UCLA -- the Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flaps and the Superficial Inferior Epigastric Artery (SIEA) flap -- allow our surgeons to reconstruct the breast without the need to transfer the abdominal muscle, which tends to weaken patients and lengthen recovery time.
Free-flap reconstruction requires a longer hospitalization and recovery period than implant reconstruction; however, it often results in a more natural-appearing breast. It's also more durable than implant reconstruction, in that patients don't have to worry about implant complications such as leakage, deflations, or capsular contracture presenting themselves years down the line.
More microsurgical breast reconstructions are performed at UCLA than at any other facility in the western United States. Our surgeons are board-certified in plastic surgery and have completed an additional fellowship in microvascular surgery.
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The EMMI viewer will help you develop a better understanding of breast reconstruction. You'll learn how a procedure works, what to expect when you go home, what to do before and after your surgery, the risks, benefits and alternatives. You'll have the opportunity to identify questions as you think of them, and print a handy reminder sheet to bring to discuss with your doctor during your pre-op visit. Our hope is that you will be more knowledgeable and confident throughout your treatment process.