About Breast Reconstruction
Having breast cancer is a long journey on its own, and when you add in the decision to have breast reconstructive surgery, it can be overwhelming. Our compassionate and caring plastic surgeon, Dr. Karen Leong, would be honored to help guide you through this time in your life with breast cancer. Surgical breast reconstruction is performed to reconstruct the breast after mastectomy has disfigured the shape and size of the breast mound. Some women have nipple-sparing mastectomies, but most women have all of it removed because of cancer and for preventing it in the future.
No matter where you are along the path of recovery from breast cancer, know that you can discuss your breast aesthetics and health with Dr. Leong in her Newport Beach, CA practice. She consults with women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, who need a breast reconstruction revision surgery, or who want to finally have the breast reconstruction surgery years after the mastectomy. If you would like to discuss your options with Dr. Leong at any point in your life with breast cancer, she is a phone call away. It is important for you to look and feel feminine and natural for your well-being. You may choose to have as little done as possible or choose to delay the surgery until your cancer treatments are over. Dr. Leong will be flexible in structuring your treatment timeline. She will also work with your other doctors and surgeons to give you the wraparound care you deserve.
"Dr. Leong has been handling all of my plastic surgery needs since my double Mastectomy back in March. With everything that I’ve been through up to this point she has always been there during any needs that I had. I appreciate her one on one with me and always being there. She does amazing work. I have expanders in now and look forward to my implants in February. Thanks for always being there Dr. Leong!"- J.M. / Yelp / Dec 26, 2019
"Dear Dr. Leong Thank you so much for giving me back my mouth! You are excellent in every way. (Please thank your staff for me, as well.) Best Regards,"- KA / Office Visit / Jul 01, 2020
"Dr. Leong has been handling all of my plastic surgery needs since my double Mastectomy back in March. With everything that I've been through up to this point she has always been there during any needs that I had. I appreciate her one on one with me and always being there. She does amazing work. I have expanders in now and look forward to my implants in February. Thanks for always being there Dr. Leong!"- J.M. / Yelp / Dec 26, 2019
"Breast Implant Removal with Dr Karen Leong at Face N Body Upland: I had my breast implants removed one month ago by Dr Karen Leong. I was recommended by a coworker who had the same procedure done earlier this year with great results. My experience was AMAZING from my first consultation visit through the entire process. The staff at the front desk Amanda, Audrey, and Lisa are very welcoming, sweet, and knowledgeable about any questions you may have. Dr Leong is personable, attentive, and thorough which I think sometimes doctors lack at the beside, but not her! She is willing to answer any and all questions without hesitation. If you are looking into breast implants removal because of "breast implant illness/BII" she is open minded about the new research coming out. I am a nurse myself, so I have been intrigued by so many women's symptoms but awaiting clear researched backed evidence. She takes a similar stance, and overall if you are worried and want them out she will help you without judgment or making you feel like it's "in your head". That being said I was not sick, but had some vague symptoms, capsular contracture, and after 16 years I wanted them removed, not replaced, and without a lift. She heard all of my concerns and was supportive and up to the task. Surgery day was a success! Nurse Monique, the OR team (didn't get their names because I was so nervous and then asleep) and the anesthesiologist Dr Melisa Erick were all beyond good to me, and I am so thankful for their expertise and calming demeanors. Follow-up the day after surgery and throughout recovery I felt closely monitored and cared for. Suture and drain removal were done by nurse Monique and Jennifer and they were caring, professional, skillful, and personable. Overall I really could not be more pleased with my care and results. Dr Leong is a very meticulous surgeon and she was able to remove my entire capsules and provide photos of the capsules and implants which I requested. My results are fantastic and my new (old) breasts look amazing. As I mentioned, I am a nurse, I know many doctors and I can assure you she is top notch! This whole process has been a pleasure and I am so thankful to each and every person at Face N Body who helped me through my journey. You will not be disappointed in your care or procedure if you choose Dr Leong and her staff. Side note: My implants were done in 2003 by a prominent Beverly Hills surgeon who has since passed. I had a consultation in Beverly Hills for removal first since that's what I knew, but I received better care at Face N Body without the drive, inflated cost, and attitude that sometimes comes with the 90210 zip code. Trust me, location does not equal better care. Good Luck on your journey"- K.K. / Yelp / Nov 14, 2019
"Dr. Karen Leong removed my breast implants and I'm so happy with my results! At my initial consultation I expressed concerns about my symptoms due to breast implant illness /BII. She was very supportive and acknowledged my feelings and symptoms unlike previous surgeons who brushed me off and made me feel like I was crazy. Not only is she beautiful and sweet but also an amazing meticulous surgeon. She removed my entire capsules and showed me pictures of my implants and capsules. My incisions look great and are hardly noticeable now. I am a nurse so I have very high expectations. She exceeded my expectations. She is my plastic surgeon for life!"- J.B. / Yelp / Nov 14, 2019
Breast Reconstruction Ideal Candidates
While not every woman is an ideal candidate for a breast reconstruction, we will do our best to accommodate your surgeries. There are certain aspects of this journey that can really take its toll on your physical and mental health. During a consultation with Dr. Leong, she will listen to how you would like to proceed and offer suggestions on how she can support your goals for realistic outcomes. She will also discuss with you how your breasts would look and feel after a reconstruction because it is a change you will have to come to terms with during your recovery. Dr. Leong will create your newly reconstructed breasts to look as natural as possible. Also, she may request to exchange medical information with your team of doctors to discuss if a reconstruction is appropriate at this stage of your treatment.
Breast Reconstruction Surgical Technique
There are a variety of techniques available today for breast reconstruction. There are also many factors that Dr. Leong considers when determining the technique that will produce your best results. Some of these factors include cancer diagnosis, reconstruction timing, whether you will use natural tissue or implants, and if nipple-sparing or nipple reconstruction is a part of the process. Most women opt for the implant-based reconstruction. In order to rebuild the breast out of your own tissue, there must be enough tissue to adequately cover the breast mound. Flap procedures accomplish this by using your own skin, muscle, and fat to create, cover, and build the breast mound. The most common flap techniques are:
- TRAM Flap
The transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap uses skin, fat, and muscle from your abdomen to create the breast. All of the upper ab muscles may need to be harvested to rebuild the breast.
- Latissimus Dorsi Flap
The latissimus dorsi flap (LDF) uses muscle, skin, and fat from your back. During this procedure, fat, tissue, and muscle are moved from the back to the mastectomy site through a surgically created tunnel and remains attached to the donor location, which leaves the original blood supply intact.
- DIEP Flap
Like a TRAM flap, a DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap removes fat, skin, and blood vessels from the abdomen, but it doesn't take the muscle. The DIEP flap removes fat and skin from the belly to form the breast mound. Dr. Leong would then attach the blood vessels to the chest via microsurgery.
- PAP Flap
Another flap alternative is the PAP (profunda artery perforator). This technique takes skin, fat, and muscle tissue from your inner thigh to create your breast(s).
- LTP Flap
While the TRAM flap tends to be one of the more common methods used during reconstruction, sometimes there is not enough muscle, skin, and fat that can be taken from the abdominal area. In these situations, the LTP flap may be used, which takes tissue from the lateral thigh area.
- Composite Flap
Also known as a composite stacked flap, this method combines flaps from different areas on your body to reconstruct the breast.
Additional Considerations for Breast Reconstruction
While flap procedures are usually successful and a common method used in breast reconstruction, you may be able to rebuild your breast(s) with tissue expansion. This involves placing a tissue expander under the breast wall and then slowly filling it with saline over the course of 4 – 6 months until the skin is properly stretched. After a flap has been created or the skin is stretched through an expander, you can then decide whether you want to use a natural fat transfer or breast implants to create the volume and shape of the breast(s). After your breast reconstruction surgery, you may want to improve the appearance with nipple and areola reconstruction. There are numerous methods to restore the nipple-areola complex so that it looks more attractive.
What to Expect with Breast Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction surgery is performed in various stages. During certain phases (such as creating a flap, inserting an expander, or placing implants), general anesthesia is often used. Some patients will require an overnight stay — this is dependent on the current phase of treatment. Once the final step has been completed in the breast reconstruction process, you will wear a compression bra for the chest and you will be given medication by Dr. Leong to control swelling, bleeding, and discomfort. Ongoing monitoring with mammograms and breast exams are important and recommended for long-term health.
Breast Reconstruction Frequently Asked Questions
How much does breast reconstruction surgery cost?
Since breast reconstruction is a complex surgery, to get great results you should concentrate on choosing a plastic surgeon with experience and training, like Dr. Leong, over who bids the lowest price. In your consultation, Dr. Leong will listen to your needs and goals before crafting your custom reconstruction plan. Once this is done, she can talk to you about cost estimates, payment methods, and low-interest financing.
Does insurance cover my surgery?
The WHCRA (Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act) of 1998 requires insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction surgery. If you have insurance, we will help you submit needed information and paperwork to your provider.
Which technique should I choose?
There is no single technique that is right for everyone. The best technique for you will depend on your needs, goals, and body. During your consultation, Dr. Leong can go over your options, including both implants and flaps, so you understand the benefits and challenges of both before you decide on your treatment plan. Whether you decide on implants or a flap for reconstruction, Dr. Leong will do her best to give you natural-looking results.
Should I have reconstruction with my mastectomy or wait?
When you choose to have breast reconstruction, it is based on several factors. Some patients choose to have their reconstruction performed at the same time as their mastectomy, while other patients prefer to wait. If you decide to have reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy, Dr. Leong can work with your general surgeon to plan your surgery.
Plan Your Procedure
Breast Reconstruction Reclaim Your Self-Confidence
While the breast reconstruction process can be lengthy, it is considered one of the most worthwhile cosmetic surgeries. It can help decrease the emotional and physical impact of a mastectomy while also allowing you to boost your self-confidence and figure. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, have had trauma to the chest, or were born with a defect that affects the shape of your breasts, we invite you to call our Newport Beach, CA office and schedule your consultation with Dr. Leong.