Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that restores shape to your breast after a mastectomy — surgery that removes your breast to treat or prevent breast cancer. Breast reconstruction with flap surgery involves taking a section of tissue from one area of your body — most often your abdomen — and relocating it to create a new breast mound.
Breast reconstruction with flap surgery is a complex procedure performed by a plastic surgeon. Much of the breast reconstruction using your body’s own tissue can be accomplished at the time of your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), though sometimes it can be done as a separate procedure later (delayed reconstruction).
Your plastic surgeon may recommend a two-stage procedure. The first stage is to place an implant expander and the second stage is to complete the tissue reconstruction. You’ll likely need another operation to perform nipple reconstruction.
Autologous tissue breast reconstruction uses one of two surgical methods:
1) Pedicled flap surgery :
The surgeon cuts some of the blood vessels to the tissue to be transferred but keeps other blood vessels intact. Tunneling the tissue beneath your skin to your chest area, the surgeon then creates the new breast mound or pocket for the implant.
2) Free flap surgery / Free Tissue Transplant Surgery :
The surgeon disconnects the tissue completely from its blood supply and reattaches the tissue to new blood vessels near your chest. Because of reattaching blood vessels, free flap surgery typically takes longer than does pedicled flap surgery.