If a woman has been faced with the decision to have a mastectomy and breast revision, most likely there will be a lot of questions. Decisions will need to be made about having an immediate or delayed breast reconstruction and getting an implant vs. a flap procedure. Many may wonder if their breast(s) will feel natural and if there will be any sensation in reconstructed breasts. Regardless of the type of breast reconstruction a plastic surgeon performs after a mastectomy, the sensation is similar.
What Happens During a Mastectomy?
When you have a mastectomy, the vast majority of breast tissue is removed. This includes skin, glandular tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. The tissue is removed to eliminate the cancerous cells, and also to prevent them from coming back in the future. Unfortunately, since nerves are cut and removed, this means that following a mastectomy, women will lose nearly all sensation in their breasts. Even the nipple in nipple-preserving mastectomy has no retained sensation.
Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery
There are two main types of breast reconstruction surgeries: implant or FLAP procedure, when tissue from your own body is used to create a breast. FLAP breast reconstruction surgeries can remodel tissue – muscle, fat, blood vessels and skin. Flaps can come from a variety of places on your body including your abdomen (DIEP or TRAM), buttocks, hips or back. The flaps generally do not have sensation when placed into the breast for reconstruction. Implant reconstruction also does not enable recovery of sensation into the breast. There will be sensations of pressure and even cold or hot. The sensual perception of the breast skin is not retained after mastectomy. A reconstructed nipple will have no sensation.
How Do I Learn More?
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can be very frightening, and women do not make the decision to get a mastectomy lightly. You are not alone. Dr. Comizio has helped hundreds of women through mastectomies and breast reconstruction – it is her specialty. Her and her team are here to support you every step of the way.
If you are facing a mastectomy and breast reconstruction and have any questions about the procedure including the loss and regaining of breast sensation, call Dr. Comizio for a consultation at (973) 775-9248.