Breast reconstruction surgery is designed to construct a new, natural-looking breast, symmetrical to and aesthetically matching the remaining breast. Plastic surgeon Dr Grant Fraser-Kirk offers this procedure to women who have had a mastectomy, whether it be due to breast cancer or as a preventative measure. Breast reconstruction can transform the lives of women who have felt a loss of confidence and comfort in their own skin.
Dr Grant Fraser-Kirk
Plastic surgeon Dr Fraser-Kirk is an expert in DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator) flap reconstruction, with over 300 DIEPs performed, performing 60 per year. He takes an empathetic, understanding, patient-centred approach, with the drive to empower patients to feel heard and be involved in their surgical journey.
What does the breast reconstruction procedure involve?
During your consultation, Dr Fraser-Kirk will assess your individual characteristics and consider your personal needs to select the right procedure type for you.
The details of the breast reconstructive procedure, and the chosen type of breast reconstructive procedure, will depend on:
- Your general health
- Your age
- Your body type
- Available body tissue
- The potential need for radiotherapy treatment
- The size and shape of your other breast
- Desired results
Types of breast reconstruction procedures
To reconstruct the breast, Dr Fraser-Kirk can perform the following procedures:
In the flap reconstruction method, tissue is taken from elsewhere on the body and used to create a new breast. The tissue donor site will depend on the flap method used.
- DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforators) Flap
Dr Fraser-Kirk is highly experienced in performing this type of procedure, which involves taking only fat, blood vessels and skin, without muscle, from the abdomen.
- Latissimus Dorsalis Pedicled Flap
This type of flap breast reconstruction procedure involves moving an oval section of fat, muscle, blood vessels and skin to the chest under the arm using a tunnel beneath the skin.
- Diagonal Upper Gracilis Free Flap
Also referred to as a DUG flap reconstruction, this method involves taking fat, blood vessels and skin from the inner thigh.
- Profunda Artery Perforator Flap
In this method, the tissue donor site used is the upper inner thigh.
- Anterolateral Thigh Free Flap
This method involves using the outer thigh as a donor site, removing the skin, fat and fascia to make a flap as a singular piece of donor tissue.
Prepectoral Implant-Based Reconstruction
As an alternative to using other areas of the body as donor sites and using the tissue to create a new breast, silicone or saline implants can be inserted to form the new breast shape.
Dr Fraser-Kirk performs the implant-based reconstruction procedure with a prepectoral implant placement, positioning the implants above the muscle.
When reconstructing a breast with implants, the procedure is usually performed in two stages, first inserting a tissue expander into the chest and filling the area with saline to create space for the implant. Then, the tissue expander is removed before placing the chosen type of implant.
Fat Graft Reconstruction
Fat grafting involves using liposuction on other areas of your body as a fat donor site and injecting the fat into the chest area to shape a new breast. Before the fat is injected, it is processed into a liquid-like consistency. This option is generally suitable for patients who wish to achieve a smaller reconstructed breast.
The potential need for multiple procedures
To achieve the desired result, some patients may need to undergo multiple breast reconstruction procedures. This will depend on individual circumstances, anatomy, and goals for the procedure. Dr Fraser-Kirk will be able to assess your features and needs to determine if multiple procedures may be necessary.
Restoring the nipple and areola
To create an areola and nipple on the reconstructed breast, various methods can be used. These methods include a skin flap, autologous graft, or medical tattooing.
Selecting the right nipple and areola restoration method will depend on the condition and features of your new breast tissue and shape, as well as your desired results.
How soon after a mastectomy can a breast reconstruction procedure be performed?
A breast reconstruction procedure can be either immediate, performed straight after a mastectomy, or delayed, performed after waiting a certain amount of time after a mastectomy.
The right time to undergo your procedure will depend on your personal circumstances, anatomy, and goals for surgery.
What can I expect following my surgery?
Some light bleeding through your dressings is normal and should only last a couple of days.
If a breast becomes swollen, tense or painful please contact Dr Fraser-Kirk.
When you come home from surgery you will have a compression garment in place with some absorbent combine pads in place.
There may be two drains, one from each breast. The drains will remain in place until less than 20ml is collected in a 24hr period.
All dressings are to remain in place and dry until your post-operative appointment.
You should rest. Sleep supported by pillows for 7 days post-operatively. you will leave the hospital with white compression stockings on your legs; these will stay on for 3 days to help maintain circulation and prevent blood clots.
No driving for 7 to 10 days. 6 weeks of rest with no heavy lifting is required.
Light walking can be resumed 2 weeks after surgery. No strenuous exercise for at least 6 weeks.
Pain relief will be prescribed to you to assist with the discomfort. If you run out of these, Panadol and Ibuprofen should be sufficient. It is common to experience some bloating and constipation following your surgery – if required, use coloxyl and Senna.
Aspirin should be avoided.
Once your surgical dressings have been removed, taping of the scars is recommended.
Micropore tape can be used to tape the wound for up to three months post-operatively.
Taping the wound prevents stretching of the scar and promotes scar maturity. Micropore can be purchased from most pharmacies and will need to be changed once weekly. You can get this wet, pat dry after showering.
Please notify Dr Fraser-Kirk if your scar appears lumpy, red or raised. A more suitable dressing may be required.
If you experience pain, widespread redness or offensive discharge from your surgical site please contact Dr Fraser-Kirk. These symptoms can indicate infection and may require antibiotics.
How much does a breast reconstruction cost in Sunshine Coast?
The costs of a breast reconstitution procedure will depend on the details of the procedure, such as the selected procedure type, whether implants have been used, anaesthesia fees, surgeon’s fees, and hospital fees. The costs will need to be calculated during your consultation with plastic surgeon Dr Fraser-Kirk.
Medicare rebate for a breast reconstruction procedure
Women who are undergoing a breast reconstruction procedure after a mastectomy may be eligible for a Medicare rebate.
To receive a Medicare rebate, you will need a referral from your General Practitioner or a specialist.
What are the risks and complications of breast reconstruction surgery?
The specific potential risks and complications of breast reconstruction surgery will depend on the type of procedure that has been performed.
The general associated risks include:
- Fluid accumulation
- Partial or complete loss of the flap (in flap reconstruction surgery)
- Loss of sensation at the tissue donor site (in flap reconstruction surgery)
- Capsular contracture (in implant-based reconstruction surgery)
- Movement of the tissue expander or implant (in implant-based reconstruction surgery)
- Damage of the reconstructed breast caused by radiotherapy
- A delay of radiotherapy treatment due to complications of breast reconstruction surgery
Notify us if you experience any of the following
- Heavy bleeding from the incision site that is difficult to control
- If you have severe or increasing pain not relieved by Panadol
- Temperature above 38 degrees celsius or chills
- Redness around the incision site that is spreading
- Pus or discharge that is foul smelling
- DO NOT SMOKE. Smoking delays healing, increases risk of infection and complications can result.
Dr Fraser-Kirk will take the potential need for radiotherapy into consideration when determining which procedure type is suitable. To minimise your risks, you will need to closely follow your preparation and recovery instructions.
Book your consultation with Dr Grant Fraser-Kirk
Your suitability for surgery, individual needs and goals for surgery will be assessed during your consultation. Dr Fraser-Kirk will outline preparation and recovery instructions, the procedure details, and procedure costs, allowing you to feel prepared for your breast reconstruction surgery.