Autologous tissue reconstruction makes a “living implant” from your tissue rather than use a manufactured implant. This method can provide many benefits. However, the procedures are more complex.
You can benefit from this type of reconstruction especially if you have had or will have radiation to your chest:
- Healthy, non-radiated tissue from your body can improve the health of an area that has been treated with radiation.
- Implants tend to have more problems, such as infection, when in an area that has been treated with radiation.
However, this procedure comes with risks:
- Autologous transplants usually need more time in the operating room and more time under anesthesia.
- Autologous transplants can require more time recovering in the hospital and at home. That is because we must do surgery on two areas of your body.
The body tissue we use to create your new breast is called the “flap.” It is called a “pedicled flap” if we can use tissue next to your breast. With a pedicled flap, the tissue stays connected to its main blood supply. Our surgeon moves the tissue through a tunnel to the breast pocket. This is the same pocket a breast implant uses.
There are two types of pedicled flaps:
This way creates a new breast mound with the skin, fat and muscle from the area between the level of the belly button and the pubic bone. This usually creates an attractive, long-lasting and natural-looking breast.
To qualify for a TRAM flap:
- You must be generally healthy.
- You must have enough lower abdominal skin and fat to make a breast.
- If you have had a tummy tuck or other abdominal surgery, a TRAM flap may not be right for you.
The operation usually lasts two to three hours for each breast. Recovery involves several days in the hospital, followed by a week or more at home. There is some risk of abdominal hernia, bulge or weakness. That is because we remove muscle that supports the abdomen.
Latissimus Dorsi Flap
This way uses the Latissimus dorsi muscle and the tissue around it. (This is muscle that runs from the back to the armpit.) This can be ideal for breast reconstruction because the skin keeps the consistency and feel of normal tissue. Sometimes surgeons combine a Latissimus dorsi flap with a small implant for the best results. Usually a bra or bathing suit covers the scar on the back.
This procedure usually takes two to three hours, followed by one to three days of recovery in the hospital. Most women do not have long-term weakness as a result of the procedure. The Latissimus dorsi flap does not have a risk of hernia development. We suggest strength and motion training with a therapist to rebuild strength.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are possible complications of autologous tissue reconstruction? Your surgical team will talk to you about any risks associated with your upcoming surgery. Autologous transplants usually require more time in the operating room and more time under anesthesia. With a TRAM flap, there is some risk of abdominal hernia, bulge or weakness, since we remove muscle that supports the abdomen.
How will I know if autologous tissue reconstruction is right for me? Our surgeons are skilled in the most advanced autologous techniques. They will talk to you about the benefits and disadvantages of autologous tissue reconstruction so that you can choose the right path for your situation. The technique we suggest will depend on your health, the amount of extra tissue, its location in your body and other factors, like what treatments you will undergo for your breast cancer.