Having a mastectomy or extensive lumpectomy changes the shape of your body. Breast reconstruction surgery can rebuild your breasts, restoring their natural shape, size, and appearance.
Many women opt for breast implants, which involves placing shells filled with saline or silicone under your skin to mimic the look and feel of breast tissue. However, implants can pose a serious risk to your health.
At Anthony Echo, M.D., with offices in Houston, Texas, our board-certified surgeon offers a way to rebuild your breasts, restore breast sensation, and prevent post-surgery pain — no implants required.
Dr. Echo uses an advanced technique called deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap breast construction. Using skin and fatty tissue from your lower abdomen and his skills in microsurgery and peripheral nerve surgery, he can rebuild your breasts and restore sensation to these tissues.
If you’ve had breast cancer surgery, take a moment to learn why you might want to avoid breast implants and consider DIEP breast reconstruction instead.
What are the dangers of breast implants?
Breast implant surgery comes with many of the same risks as other surgeries, such as anesthesia risks, pain, bleeding, and infection. But breast implants bring their own risks.
In fact, just last year the FDA approved stricter warnings and labeling requirements on breast implants to help warn women about their dangers.
FDA scientists and independent researchers have studied implants and learned some of the dangers they pose to women seeking their use in reconstruction after breast cancer and in breast augmentation surgery not related to breast cancer. These risks include:
- Breast implant illness (BII), which can trigger muscle or joint pain, fatigue, and issues with memory or concentration
- Breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a rare non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of the immune system
- Connective tissue and autoimmune complications, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, and pulmonary fibrosis
- Capsular contracture, or scar tissue around the implant
- Implant rupture and deflation, or leaking and draining
- Issues related to implant migration, or leaking silicone in the lymph nodes or other organs
- Metal poisoning from toxic levels of platinum
- Chronic breast pain
- Changes in nipple and breast sensation
Implants can also make it harder to detect breast cancer. In fact, a recent study found that in women with breast implants, about 55% of breast tumors are hidden and not found until later stages.
What’s involved with DIEP flap breast reconstruction?
During DIEP flap breast reconstruction, your provider uses your own tissues to recreate your breasts. Dr. Echo uses excess skin and fatty tissue from your lower abdomen, similar to a tummy tuck, leaving your abdominal muscle intact.
Dr. Echo makes an incision in the lower abdomen and removes skin, fatty tissue, and blood vessels. He then closes the incision, tightening the skin and repositioning your belly button to its natural position.
Using his skills as a microvascular surgeon, Dr. Echo then connects the blood vessels in the donor tissue to those in your chest at the mastectomy site. This allows the rebuilt breast to thrive. He can also repair nerves damaged during the cancer surgery to restore skin sensation and help prevent post-surgery pain.
It’s important to understand that most plastic surgeons don’t perform DIEP flap breast reconstruction. This is because the procedure is an advanced surgery that requires special surgical skills, including experience with microsurgery and peripheral nerve surgery.
As a plastic surgeon with special training and extensive experience in both microsurgery and nerve surgery, Dr. Echo can create natural-looking results without the risks associated with breast implants.
To learn more about DIEP flap breast reconstruction or to see if you’re a candidate for this surgery, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Anthony Echo, M.D., in Houston.