About Breast Reconstruction
Through breast reconstructive surgery with our Albuquerque, NM board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Miguel Gallegos, breast cancer survivors (who have lost one or both breasts) and women with a recent cancer diagnosis have the opportunity to live life without prosthetics. Reconstructive surgery for the breasts can be performed to rebuild the breasts to a feminine appearance in size and shape following a lumpectomy or mastectomy. It's also available for women who have been through a physical trauma to the breast(s) or have a birth defect.
Breast reconstruction at Hermosa Plastic Surgery involves multiple procedures at different stages that may be performed along with your breast cancer treatment or delayed until a later date. With his dedicated and compassionate surgical staff, Dr. Gallegos will design a treatment plan with your input and preferences to make this treatment uniquely yours. We would also be happy to work with your oncology team or general surgeon if you would like to have an immediate reconstruction following a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Call our office at Hermosa Plastic Surgery to schedule your consultation today.
"The Doc and his staff are amazing! I have been going to him since he started. Have recommended a bunch of people to him! Highly recommend!!!!’"- T.W. / Google / Jun 02, 2019
"So thrilled with my tummy tuck, muscle repair, fat transfer and lipo. Everyone is so nice and welcoming. They go out of there way to help you recover. Highly recommend"- D.B. / Facebook / May 07, 2019
"I love love love this place! Everyone is friendly & knowledgeable! I've had the greatest experience here from my consultation to months after my surgery! I can not thank Dr. Gallegos & the staff enough for everything! I highly recommend Hermosa Plastic Surgery to anyone who is looking to get anything done! I'm so happy with my results & get compliments all the time! So much that 2 family members have now started their surgery journeys here as well! Thank you all again!"- S.S. / Google / Mar 22, 2019
"Dr Gallegos and his staff are the best!! Very professional and courteous to your needs. From the very first appt and follow ups there after."- M.O. / Yelp / Mar 19, 2019
"I am only on day 3 after my breast augmentation, I went in so scared but the team and Dr. Gallegos are truly amazing! I still have swelling but I am amazed with the work and care from Hermosa Plastic Surgery! Thank you Dr. Gallegos for making my dream a reality!"- T.M. / Facebook / Mar 15, 2019
If you are considering breast reconstruction at any stage (before or after your breast removal), you will be required to have an in-depth consultation appointment with Dr. Gallegos to decide on the surgical plan. You may be a candidate for breast reconstruction if you:
- Had a mastectomy or lumpectomy in the past but did not have a breast reconstruction
- Have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer
- Would like to discuss the possibilities of an immediate reconstruction following your breast removal
- Want to have a preventive bilateral mastectomy because you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which puts you in a high-risk category for breast cancer
- Were born with only one breast
- Had a trauma to one or both of your breasts where the damage is so severe that it has to be reconstructed
- Would like to have a revision surgery from a previous breast reconstruction
If you are thinking about reconstructive surgery, it's crucial that you have realistic expectations for results. While Dr. Gallegos aims to give you an attractive, natural appearance, your reconstructed breast(s) may not have the same look, sensations, or feel like your original breast(s). You should get clearance from your oncology team to undergo reconstruction surgery and talk to Dr. Gallegos regarding other conditions that may affect your recovery.
There are several surgical techniques available to reconstruct the breast with your own tissue. There are also multiple factors that Dr. Gallegos looks at when deciding on the technique that will give you your best results. A few of these determinants include your specific cancer diagnosis, when the mastectomy and/or reconstruction is performed, whether you will use implants or natural tissue, and if nipple reconstruction or nipple-sparing is a part of the treatment plan. To recreate the breast, you must have enough tissue to cover your whole breast mound. Flap methods accomplish this by using your own muscle, fat, and skin to form the breast. The most frequent flap techniques are:
- TRAM Flap (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap)
The TRAM flap technique takes muscle, fat, and skin from your abdominal area to build your new breasts (where the tissue may stay connected to the donor location to maintain the original blood supply.
- DIEP Flap (deep inferior epigastric perforator flap)
Similar to a TRAM flap, the DIEP flap takes skin, fat, and blood vessels from the lower abdominal area; however, it does not use your muscle. The DIEP flap transfers skin and fat from your abdomen to create your new breast. Then, Dr. Gallegos will perform microsurgery to reattach the blood vessels to the chest wall.
- LAT Flap (latissimus dorsi flap)
This technique uses muscle, fat, and skin from your back. For this technique, the tissue is taken from your back to the breast(s) via a surgically created path so it stays attached to the donor location, which keeps the original blood supply in place.
- PAP Flap (profunda artery perforator flap)
The PAP flap uses fat, muscle, and skin tissue from your inner thigh as the base tissue for your breast(s).
- LTP Flap (lateral thigh perforator flap)
Although the TRAM flap is one of the most common techniques used for breast reconstruction, sometimes there isn't enough muscle, fat, and skin that can be taken from your abdominal area. In this case, the LTP flap technique may be performed, which uses tissue from your outer thighs.
- Composite Flap
Also called a composite-stacked flap, this technique takes flaps from several sections of your body to make your new breasts.
Although flap procedures are a common and highly successful method for breast reconstruction surgery, you may want to recreate your breast(s) with the tissue expansion method. This technique places a tissue expander below the breast wall, and then Dr. Gallegos will gradually fill it with a saline solution over 4 – 6 months to stretch the area out over time to make room for an implant. This is a series of appointments that will gradually enhance your bust shape.
What to Expect
Surgical breast reconstruction is done in several steps. In some phases (like the flap creation, tissue expansion, or implant placement), general anesthesia is typically used. Some patients may need to stay overnight, but this is based on the treatment phase. When the last stage is completed for your breast reconstruction, you should wear a supportive bra, and you may be prescribed medication by Dr. Gallegos to minimize bleeding, swelling, and discomfort. In time, the reconstructed breast(s) should appear more normal so you can feel more comfortable. Regular checks with breast exams and mammograms are critical and highly recommended to check for new cancer growths.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does breast reconstruction surgery cost?
Breast reconstruction surgery is complex and deeply personal. This is the type of reconstructive surgery that should be performed by a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, like our dedicated Dr. Gallegos, with decades of experience and superior training in breast reconstruction. Who you choose for your reconstructive surgeon for breast surgery should not be dictated by the fees, but we understand why you would have concerns about the cost of this type of extensive surgery. During your initial consultation, Dr. Gallegos will sit down with you to discuss what you will need to achieve your ideal breast shape — either through flap surgery or breast implant. Then, we can talk you through the fees, insurance coverage, and other options for payment.
Does insurance cover my surgery?
Enacted in 1998, the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) requires health insurance policies that cover breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) to cover reconstruction surgery as well. If you have insurance, a team member at Hermosa Plastic Surgery will help navigate your coverage. We can also assist you with the needed paperwork you will need to give to your insurance provider.
What about nipple reconstruction?
If you're interested in nipple and areola reconstruction, you should ask about it specifically in your initial consultation. Dr. Gallegos will discuss your surgical and nonsurgical opportunities in recreating your nipple-areola complex.
Do I have to have breast reconstruction surgery?
You certainly do not have to opt for breast reconstruction as there are other alternatives available. Some women find they are comfortable with having a breast form or prosthetic breasts that are removable. Other women feel as if they need to undergo breast reconstruction so they can feel whole again. The choice really is up to you. We are here to help you make informed decisions based on your level of comfort, your health, and what can be done to recreate a natural, feminine look that is right for your body. Dr. Gallegos will listen to your concerns and do his best to make this process as pliable as he can for you.
Should I have reconstruction with my mastectomy or wait?
The timing of your breast reconstruction is dependent on many factors. Some patients decide to schedule their breast(s) reconstruction along with their mastectomy while other patients decide to defer the surgery. Dr. Gallegos suggests you make an appointment for consultation following a diagnosis of breast cancer so you can learn about your options before making a decision. Dr. Gallegos will also be happy to collaborate with your other doctors to plan your care.
Plan Your Procedure
- Recovery Time
- Average Procedure Time
- Procedure Recovery Location
Plans Right for You
Although the process of breast reconstruction can take time, it's probably one of the top beneficial procedures for our Albuquerque, NM patients at Hermosa Plastic Surgery. It may help improve the physical and emotional impact of breast cancer treatment while also allowing you to restore your figure and self-confidence. If you have breast cancer, have had an injury to the chest, or have a congenital defect that affects the look of your breasts, we encourage you to contact our Albuquerque, NM office and make an appointment with Dr. Gallegos.