Breast reconstruction

 

All patients who are recommended or choose a mastectomy will have the opportunity to discuss breast reconstruction. If you are suitable, breast reconstruction can be offered at the same time as your mastectomy (immediate) or at a later stage (delayed). Your surgeon will discuss these timings with you.

In addition to treating patients with breast cancer, we can offer breast reconstruction to patients seeking surgery because of a high risk of breast cancer within their family. It may be necessary for your GP to refer you to this service.

More on what we do

We have a team of oncoplastic breast surgeons and plastic and reconstructive surgeons who offer a range of full and partial breast reconstruction options. We can use implants and/or your own tissue (autologous), or a combination of both, to create a breast mound.

We know that breast reconstruction can never replace what you have lost, but our aim is to provide you with breast volume and go some way to improve your self-esteem and body image.

You will meet with your reconstructive surgeon and the breast reconstruction nurse specialist who will be able to guide and support you through your reconstruction. Among other things, the team will need to consider your smoking status, BMI, cancer treatments and social support when discussing breast reconstruction options and timings with you. You will be offered support as required.

Breast reconstruction is usually performed during several procedures over a period of 12-18 months. You might require surgery to give you better symmetry after your initial reconstruction. This will be assessed and reviewed by your surgeon during your follow-up appointments.

If your nipple is removed as part of your mastectomy, there are a number of surgical and non-surgical options available to have this recreated. This is generally the last procedure of your breast reconstruction pathway. You might want to use a prosthetic nipple in the short term. The breast reconstruction nurse specialist can advise you about this.

Treatments

When you meet your surgeon, they will assess your suitability for breast reconstruction. They will need to consider your cancer diagnosis and treatments, your physical health and your overall body shape and size. The surgeon will discuss the options available to you.

We offer a range of full breast reconstruction options here at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital:

  • Implant/Tissue Expansion
  • Latissimus Dorsi (tissue taken from the back)
  • DIEP (tissue taken from the tummy)

There are other reconstruction options available which we do not offer here. You can speak to your surgeon to ask for a referral to another hospital for these options:

  • TUG (tissue taken from the inner thighs)
  • SGAP/IGAP (tissue taken from the buttocks)

Your recovery time will depend on the type of surgery you have. It can take anything from 4-6 weeks to recover or up to three months. On completion of your reconstruction, it can take up to 12 months for your body to adjust to ‘the new normal’.

As well as full breast reconstruction, we offer partial breast reconstruction:

  • Chest Wall Perforator Flap (LICAP/ LTAP/TDAP/MICAP/AICAP)

Following your initial breast reconstruction, you might want to discuss further surgery to adjust the symmetry and/or volume of your breasts. We can offer various procedures to either lift, reduce and increase volume to the reconstructed breast or your natural breast:

  • Lipofilling (fat transfer to increase volume)
  • Breast mastopexy (breast lift)
  • Breast reduction (reducing breast volume)
  • Nipple reconstruction (surgical and non-surgical techniques)

If you have a full breast mastectomy and reconstruction, you will not need any further imaging to your breast (mammograms). However, you will still require mammograms to your natural breast and your surgeon will discuss this with you.

Our team

The service is supported by:

Oncoplastic Breast Consultant surgeons

  • Douglas Ferguson / Secretary - Natalie Jones: 01392 406299
  • Sisse Olsen / Secretary - Kate Berry: 01392 402703
  • Rachel Tillett / Secretary - Carla Staddon: 01392 404528
  • Charlotte Ives / Secretary - Megan Rowe: 01392 403949

Plastic and Reconstructive Consultant surgeons

  • Rachel Tillett / Secretary - Carla Staddon: 01392 404528
  • David Oliver / Secretary - 01392 402632
  • Nick Cawrse / Secretary - NHC 01392 402279
  • Chris Mills / Secretary - 01392 404765

Breast Reconstruction Nurse Specialist

  • Sue Avery / Secretary - Jackie Taylor: 01392 402707

Where to find us

RD&E Wonford, Barrack Rd, Exeter EX2 5DW

Consultations with our surgeons are held in Surgical Outpatients Level, 1 Area K.

Contact us

If you have a surgical outpatient appointment and need to change it, please contact the booking office on 01392 406992 (stating your NHS number).

Please contact the breast reconstruction nurse specialist if you have any concerns regarding your breast reconstruction on 01392 402707.

Please contact the consultant’s secretary if you have any concerns about waiting lists or general administrative queries - see our team above. 

Patient leaflets and documents

Clinics

• Nurse led Reconstruction Clinics (Mon-Fri)
• Nurse led Wound assessment clinic (Mon-Fri)
• Plastic Surgery Wound Assessment Clinic (Mon-Fri)
• Micropigmentation Clinics (Tattooing)

Supporting you

Breast Reconstruction Information Evenings

FORCE Cancer Charity

Cancer support and information centre based in Exeter.

Email: www.forcecancercharity.co.uk

Telephone: 01392 406151

Clinical Psychology

Bra Fitting

Either at the RD&E or FORCE

Volunteer database

We have ‘volunteer database’ for you to have the opportunity to talk to other patients who have undergone reconstructive surgery. Please speak with your Breast Reconstruction Nurse Specialist if you would like to speak to a volunteer.

Breast Cancer Now

‘Someone like me’ (click here to visit the website)

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