Breast reconstruction after cancer is a multi-step process to restructure the symmetry of the breasts that was effected by the mastectomy. The post mastectomy latissimus dorsi flap is one of the post mastectomy reconstructive options. This reconstruction procedure uses body tissue, skin, fat, muscle and blood vessels from the upper back. The breast is reconstructed by tunneling an ellipse of skin with muscle from the back called the latissimus dorsi to the mastectomy area.

This procedure is preferred by many breast cancer patients because the patient's own tissue is used. It is also a good choice for women who are not candidates for a tissue expander or abdominal tissue reconstruction secondary to prior surgery or radiation. Due to the minimal amount of tissue on the back, the procedure may require a small breast implant along with the use of your own tissue.

Dr. Gartside can explain this and other steps of the reconstruction process in detail during an extensive, confidential consultation. Call (888) 730-4113 today.

What to Expect

There are several reconstructive options for women after a mastectomy. As with all surgeries, there are advantages and disadvantages to the procedure you choose.

When you meet with your plastic surgeon, the two of you will decide if you are a good candidate for the latissimus dorsi breast reconstruction and if this option is best for you depending on your specific needs and post mastectomy desires. If this option is best suited for you, this procedure will help create a more natural looking breast.

Since the reconstructed breast or breasts are formed from natural tissue, the feel and the look of your breasts will be more natural than having implants alone.

Back Muscle Flap Procedure

Prior to the date of your procedure, you will have a “pre-assessment” to determine your general health and home circumstances. During this appointment you will be given the opportunity to have any questions answered in regards to the breast reconstruction procedure and anesthesia and will be given specific instructions to adhere to in the days before your procedure.

You will be asleep during the surgery since it is performed using general anesthetic and ranges from six to eight hours in length. The areas to be performed on will be cleaned using medical grade soap. You will be covered in a sheet in order to keep the operating area clean. The tissue will be formed into a shape appropriate for your body and breasts. The incisions are sealed using stitches and covered in medical bandages.

If you desire or need nipple reconstruction, it will typically be deferred until the breast reconstructive surgery is completed in order to properly plan the positioning of the nipple and areola.

After Care

After the operation is complete, you will be moved to a recovery area where you can be closely observed. You should plan to be in the hospital for recovery for 2-4 days.

You will be kept very warm in order to aid in the expansion of the blood vessels which will allow circulation to your new breasts. For the first 48 hours, you will require help from the staff for most activities. During your recovery time, you will be positioned with your knees bent up, with the aid of a pillow, and will be lying almost flat to alleviate any stretching of the newly connected vessels in your new breasts.

Dr. Gartside understands the toll, both physically and emotionally, that it takes on patients who are battling breast cancer. It is her priority to make your breast reconstructive procedure as complication-free and comfortable as possible. You will be guided through the progression to make certain you have a successful passage through the rehabilitation process.

For more information about breast reconstruction after a mastectomy, contact our Washington, D.C. and Virginia area plastic surgeon online or by phone at (888) 730-4113 to schedule a cosmetic surgery consultation!  Serving the metro DC area and Reston, Fairfax, and McLean.