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Chicago Breast Reconstruction Surgeons Compare Two Effective Techniques

Drs. Lorri Cobbins and Brian Braithwaite highlight implant-based and autologous breast reconstruction techniques.

Chicago, IL – Each year, more than 100,000 women in the U.S. undergo a mastectomy to remove cancerous breast tissue or prevent the possibility of breast cancer. The majority of mastectomy patients – over 91,000 in 2013 – choose breast reconstruction surgery to recreate the breast, begun either in conjunction with the mastectomy or in a later procedure.

Implant-based reconstruction and autologous (flap) reconstruction are the two main types of breast reconstruction, but which one should patients choose? Dr. Lorri Cobbins and Dr. Brian Braithwaite of The Aesthetic Institute of Chicago, a private plastic surgery practice, explain that each procedure has advantages. “The decision starts with knowing the treatment plan of each individual patient,” Dr. Cobbins says.

In implant-based reconstruction, a temporary implant, known as a tissue breast expander, is placed in the breast cavity during the first part of the breast reconstruction procedure. Then, in follow-up outpatient visits over the course of four to eight weeks, the surgeon will inject a salt-water solution into the temporary implant, which slowly expands like a balloon. When it has expanded to the right size, the temporary implant is replaced with a permanent breast implant during a second surgical procedure.

Unlike implant-based reconstruction, autologous reconstruction typically requires only one surgical procedure, but due to its more invasive nature, its recovery period is longer. Rather than using an implant to rebuild the breast, autologous reconstruction uses tissue from the patient’s body – usually taken from her abdomen, back, or buttocks area – to create a new breast mound.

With its shorter recovery time, Dr. Cobbins says implant-based reconstruction is the more popular method of the two. “It is less invasive, patients are able to be immersed in the decision process regarding the implant size, and results can be more predictable.” And, according to Dr. Cobbins, implant-based reconstruction may be a better option for women who have had both breasts removed. “It may provide better symmetry in women who require a bilateral or double mastectomy, as the same size implant can be placed on both sides of the chest.”

Conversely, there are some patients for whom autologous reconstruction may be a better option. “Women who undergo radiation therapy as part of a treatment plan are better candidates for autologous reconstruction,” Dr. Cobbins says, “as the blood supply and tissues needed to support an implant can be impaired following radiation.” And, from a cosmetic standpoint, the autologous technique is known for its more natural-looking – and natural-feeling – results.

With their extensive knowledge and experience performing breast reconstruction, Dr. Cobbins says that she and Dr. Braithwaite have helped many patients discover which option is right for them. “We believe that every patient should be given the choice of reconstruction.”

About Dr. Lorri Cobbins

Dr. Lorri Cobbins is a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing at The Aesthetic Institute of Chicago, located in the West Loop. She is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Dr. Cobbins is available for interview upon request.

About Dr. Brian Braithwaite

Dr. Brian Braithwaite is a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing at The Aesthetic Institute of Chicago. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Braithwaite is available for interview upon request.

For more information about Dr. Cobbins, Dr. Braithwaite, and The Aesthetic Institute of Chicago, visit aestheticinstitutechicago.com.


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