Breast Reconstruction

Breast Surgery

Breast Reconstruction in Montclair, NJ with Dr. Caroline Szpalski

Breast reconstruction can be an emotional procedure, often following the invasiveness of breast cancer and its surgical treatment. Reconstruction of the breast is a surgical procedure that is performed after a mastectomy or lumpectomy It is also available to women seeking prophylactic risk-reducing surgery. As breasts play a significant role in feminine identity, losing one’s breasts can affect not only their appearance but their confidence and sense of self. For many women, breast reconstruction helps them reclaim their distinct identity and feel like themselves again by positively impacting their body image and self-confidence.

As a highly emotional journey, breast reconstruction requires a respectful, sensitive, and highly experienced surgeon. Fellowship-trained female plastic surgeon Dr. Caroline Szpalski wants to help you feel confident in your own skin again and is honored to be part of this journey with her brave patients, making her your choice as one of the best breast reconstruction surgeons in the tri-state area of New Jersey.

Contact us today at (646) 777-0170 or complete our online form to schedule your breast reconstruction consultation today. We are located in Newark, NJ and proudly serve patients in the Montclair, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Clifton, The Oranges, Paramus, and Franklin’s Lakes areas.

What Is Breast Reconstruction in New Jersey?

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that utilizes advanced techniques to rebuild the breast and nipple to restore the overall figure, improve body image, and restore self-confidence. Different types of breast reconstruction and a variety of surgical techniques are available. The best treatment plan for each patient will depend on their overall health, the details of their cancer treatment, their personal preferences, and Dr. Szpalski’s recommendations. Overall, breast reconstruction usually takes multiple surgeries scheduled over several months. 

In the setting of a mastectomy, skin-sparing or otherwise, this can be reconstructed using 2 different modalities. One modality will be to proceed with an implant-based reconstruction. 

The second option when you undergo a mastectomy is to undergo an autologous procedure (also named flap). The flap can be free or pedicled. 

Some patients may require a combination of both modalities to achieve a successful and beautiful breast reconstruction.

During your consultation, Dr. Szpalski will thoroughly explain all available options to develop a unique breast reconstruction treatment plan. In certain cases, Dr. Szpalski may recommend combining breast reconstruction techniques to achieve the desired outcome and pleasing results.

Methods for Breast Reconstruction in New Jersey

Breast implants, including saline or silicone implants, can be used to reconstruct the breast mound.

This is typically performed in 2 stages, with the placement of an expander at the time of mastectomy followed by a second operation in order to exchange the expander for the permanent implant. In the right candidate,  it can be done in a single stage as well. 

The majority of patients decide to use a silicone implant as they tend to look and feel more natural compared to the saline implant. The patient may need some additional coverage with an acellular dermal matrix in order to provide additional coverage of the expander/implant. The product will ultimately be incorporated into the patient’s own tissue. Dr. Szpalski favors a prepectoral placement of the implants when feasible. Otherwise, it will be placed underneath the pectoralis major muscle. The second operation for exchange the expander for the permanent implant is typically performed in conjunction with any symmetry procedures on the contralateral breast if needed. Fat grafting often happens at the same time or at a later time. 

In the case of tight chest tissue, Dr. Szpalski may first insert a tissue expander, a modified version of a saline implant that has a valve to gradually make room for the implant. When the desired size is achieved, the tissue expander is removed and replaced with saline or silicone implants. 

For some patients, a one-stage breast reconstruction using full-sized silicone gel breast implants which can be placed at the same time as a mastectomy is an option. Only smooth, round devices are used by Dr. Szpalski.

Flap breast reconstruction uses skin, tissue, or muscle from a donor area of the body, such as the abdomen, back, or buttocks, to reconstruct the breast mound. An advantage of flap reconstruction is a natural look and feel, as part of your own body is used to construct your new breast.

Some flap options tunnel the tissue beneath the skin to the chest to maintain the flap’s blood supply, creating a new breast mound (pedicled flap). These flaps can either be a muscle from the back or skin and fat from the lateral chest or back. In both cases, the flood supply of the tissue is not disrupted (different than a free flap reconstruction).

Other flap options completely detach the tissues from the body, then reattach them through microsurgery (free flap). It is a significantly more challenging operation and, in order to rebuild the breast, requires the surgeon to harvest tissue from another place on the body and transfer that tissue to the breast. This operation typically spans approximately 6-12 hours and will require a hospital stay of approximately 3-5 days. It requires microsurgical expertise, a subspecialty of plastic surgery in which Dr. Szpaski is specifically trained. She has extensive training, skill, and experience in the field of microsurgery. While flap procedures may be more invasive, the results can match the appearance and feel of natural breasts.

There are multiple flap options that Dr. Szpalski will review with you during your consultation.

Fat grafting, or fat transfer, is a commonly used technique to reconstruct the breast after mastectomy or lumpectomy. During the fat grafting procedure, small amounts of fat are removed from another part of your body (usually the abdomen or thighs). This shouldn’t be confused with procedures such as liposuction, since such small amounts of fat are removed. The fat is then purified and then injected into the areas of the breasts that need filling using cannulas to skillfully inject individual droplets of fat into the breast. The fat then incorporates into skin or breast’s existing adipose, or fat tissue.

Autologous fat grafting offers a wonderful versatility. It is a fantastic tool to correct lumpectomy defects that were not reconstructed at the time of the breast surgery for example. 

Another great use of graft transfer is as a complement to two-stage implant-based reconstruction. It remains the most common method of breast reconstruction, and in most cases, this technique benefits from adjunctive fat grafting to correct minor contour deformities or asymmetries. In these cases, smaller volumes of fat injection are transferred to provide a more natural feel and look of the breasts.

In some cases, higher injection quantities can be an alternative to conventional procedures for whole breast reconstruction. That being said, often more than one fat grafting treatment may be needed to achieve a good aesthetic since there is a limit on how much you can transfer in one setting. 

Dr. Szpalski will discuss with you during your consultation to see if fat grafting is the right procedure for you.

Breast reconstruction is an intimate and personal journey. There is no “best breast reconstruction method.” There is only what is best for each unique body, history, needs, and goals. 

And for some, this means no breast reconstruction per se but an aesthetic flat closure. This can also be called post-mastectomy chest wall reconstruction, and it is a medical term for going flat. It is also a form of reconstructive surgery since poorly closed mastectomy scars can be uncomfortable and even painful. 

It can be done at the time of mastectomy (immediate) or in a delayed fashion. Depending on the patient’s anatomy,  Dr. Szpalski will remove extra skin and fat and tighten and smooth out the remaining tissue to create a flat chest wall contour. 

Creating a beautiful and flat chest closure is more complicated than it looks, particularly for patients with large breasts, comorbidities, or previous breast surgeries. 

Multiple techniques can be used to achieve a beautiful long lasting result, and Dr. Szpalski will review each option with you during your consultation.

Nipple Reconstruction in New Jersey

Some mastectomy patients have a nipple-sparing procedure, but nipple reconstruction is an option for those who do not. NAC (nipple and areolar complex) reconstruction is typically performed several months after breast reconstruction and helps to complete a natural-looking appearance. Various techniques for NAC reconstruction exist and Dr. Szpalski will review your options during your consultation with her.

How Do I Know If I am a Candidate for a NJ Implant Reconstruction vs. Flap Reconstruction

There is no one size fits all approach to breast reconstruction and the amount of information out there can seem overwhelming. Dr. Szpalski will take the time to review all your reconstructive options based on your unique cancer and treatment plan, anatomy, needs, and goals. She will work with you individually to determine what type of reconstruction is best for you.

Choosing Dr. Caroline Szpalski as Your NJ Breast Reconstruction Provider

Fellowship trained in microsurgery and the most complex cases in the world at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Caroline Szpalski is a female plastic surgeon born into a family of medical professionals. She knew from an early age she wanted to become a surgeon. With a distinct multicultural perspective and a unique Ethnic identity, Dr. Szpalski recognizes that there are many standards of beauty, identity, color, and culture, so she doesn’t offer a single approach for all patients.

As a busy surgeon, wife, mother, and New Yorker, Dr. Szpalski understands the diverse challenges many of her patients face. With a less is more philosophy, Dr. Szpalski tailors her approach to each patient’s needs with meticulous detailing to provide natural-looking, long-lasting results for a sense of timeless elegance.

Meet Caroline Szpalski, MD

Female Plastic Surgeon in New Jersey

Rediscover your identity with the help of Dr. Caroline Szpalski, a board-certified and fellowship-trained plastic surgeon in New Jersey. With a unique multicultural upbringing and a European flair, Dr. Szpalski crafts elegant sophistication into every natural-looking patient transformation. Dr. Szpalski takes a less-is-more approach to plastic surgery to help patients maintain and appreciate their unique appearance and cultural beauty. No matter your aesthetic goals, start your journey toward a more confident you by scheduling your consultation with Dr. Szpalski and her expert team today!

Your Breast Reconstruction Consultation with Dr. Szpalski in New Jersey

Following the intrusiveness of cancer, women need compassionate care and education about their options to ensure they’re making decisions they’ll appreciate for many years to come. As the results from breast reconstruction vary, your choice of surgeon is crucial. 

Dr. Szpalski’s goal for all breast reconstruction consultations is for her patients to feel confident in their decisions regarding their health, their procedure, and their identity. During your consultation, Dr. Szpalski aims to understand your goals and realistic expectations to determine she is the right surgeon for you. She will get to know you personally and discuss your cancer treatment(s) to date, learn about your lifestyle, preferences for your surgery, and your personal goals for your aesthetic results. With a focus on providing patients with exemplary care, Dr. Szpalski has created a warm, welcoming, nonjudgmental environment safe for sharing your concerns, making her one of the best breast reconstruction surgeons in New Jersey.

Immediate Breast Reconstruction vs. Delayed Breast Reconstruction

An immediate reconstruction is a single surgery that includes both mastectomy and reconstruction done at the same surgery. Dr. Szpalski works with breast surgeons who are experts in nipple-sparing mastectomy and who also consider the aesthetic results to be essential as a surgical goal. Many patients are candidates for immediate reconstruction, which offers the benefit of a single surgery date and natural-looking results without being flat. In most cases, immediate reconstruction is combined with a nipple-sparing mastectomy, but not always.

Delayed reconstruction involves a waiting period between mastectomy and reconstruction. Delayed reconstruction may be recommended in cases where there are complex medical concerns, such as rapidly growing tumors, as well as cases in which the patient prefers to delay reconstruction for personal reasons. In general, it is recommended to wait at least 6-12 months after the end of radiation before breast reconstruction surgery and at least 6 weeks after chemotherapy ends before having surgery.

Congenital Breast Anomalies Reconstruction in New Jersey

There is a wide spectrum of congenital breast anomalies ranging from mild (small breast asymmetry) to severe (absence of a whole breast with or without the absence of the pectoralis muscle). 

The most common breast congenital anomaly is tuberous breasts. Tuberous or tubular breast anomaly is a common congenital condition that is named for the typically elongated or tubular appearance of affected breasts. Either one or both breasts may be affected. Women with tubular breasts often feel self-conscious or embarrassed to show their breasts to others due to their unusual shape. Correction of tubular breasts can help improve body image, self-esteem, and self-confidence, and Dr. Szpalski believes it is also an important aspect of breast reconstruction.

Another congenital condition is Poland Syndrome. It is a rare congenital condition affecting the chest, breast, and sometimes the upper extremities (arm and hand) on one side of the body. Generally, the pectoralis major muscle (the muscle that sits beneath the breast) is absent or underdeveloped, and the overlying breast is absent, small, or misshapen. It affects more men than women. Occasionally, other anatomic features are present, such as sternum or rib anomalies, and they can be associated with other congenital syndromes.

It becomes evident during puberty when breast asymmetry develops. In fully developed women, there may be a smaller breast on the affected side or an absence of the breast altogether. The nipple and areola are affected as well and are in general smaller, or they may also be absent. The underlying chest wall is often depressed or misshapen, and the normal contour of the pectoralis major muscle is missing.  Dr. Szpalski offers breast and chest wall reconstruction using a wide range of techniques, from fat grafting to implants and flap procedures.

Am I an Ideal Candidate for Breast Reconstruction in NJ?

Breast reconstruction allows patients to reclaim not only the appearance of their breasts but also their identities. Candidates for breast reconstruction are looking to restore the size and shape of their breasts to feel more comfortable about their appearance in clothing, to regain their feminine shape, and to feel more confident about their bodies. Good candidates for breast reconstruction should: 

  • Be in good physical and mental health, living a healthy lifestyle
  • Not smoke, or be willing to quit at least six weeks prior to and after surgery
  • Be cancer free
  • Have no conditions that impair healing
  • Have realistic expectations and a positive outlook
  • Understand the surgical risks and benefits

Preparing for Breast Reconstruction in Glen Ridge, NJ

It is essential to be in good physical and mental health before your breast reconstruction. While each breast procedure will be unique, here is some general information to help you prepare.

  • Before surgery is not a good time to diet. You should be at a stable weight and avoid crash dieting or weight fluctuations. Stick to a consistent exercise regimen and well-rounded diet.
  • Proper nutrition supports a successful recovery. Eat healthy, balanced meals with plenty of proteins to optimize results and recovery.
  • Stay well-hydrated before and after your procedure.
  • See your primary care physician for a full examination and appropriate testing to ensure you are medically fit for surgery.
  • For two weeks prior to and after surgery, refrain from medications, vitamins, and supplements that increase bleeding or bruising risks.
  • If you currently smoke, vape, or use nicotine products, you should quit. As smoking is detrimental to your health, especially during recovery from surgery, patients should stop smoking at least six weeks before and after surgery. Dr. Szpalski orders a nicotine test for all patients who smoke to help avoid complications caused by smoking or the use of nicotine products. 
  • Prepare your home and schedule for recovery. Take time off work, purchase necessary supplies, fill pain medication prescriptions, freeze meals for easy preparation, and arrange a clean, comfortable place to rest.
  • Arrange for a trusted friend or family member to drive you home from your procedure and assist you with household management or childcare.

Breast Reconstruction in New Jersey Procedure Overview

Dr. Szpalski performs breast reconstruction procedures in fully accredited facilities at Freedom Surgical Center, St. Joseph’s Health University Medical Center, or Hudson Regional Hospital. On the day of your procedure, you’ll arrive approximately an hour prior to your scheduled surgery to meet with Dr. Szpalski and your anesthesia provider. Dr. Szpalski will review your surgery details and answer any final questions you have.

As each breast reconstruction procedure is unique, Dr. Szpalski will discuss the appropriate breast reconstruction techniques based on your anatomy during your consultation. Your unique breast reconstruction journey may take multiple procedures scheduled over several months. Depending on the extent of the procedure, breast reconstruction surgery may last for up to seven hours.

Breast Reconstruction Recovery in Glen Ridge, NJ

Breast reconstruction entails many factors, making each case unique. Recovery time greatly depends on the approach used, and you may expect to stay in the hospital for a few days.

Following your breast reconstruction, expect to experience swelling, bruising, and soreness for several weeks that gradually subsides. You may experience discomfort or pressure in the area, and you may find it difficult to lift your arms. Dr. Szpalski will prescribe pain medication to minimize discomfort. 

You will be fitted with a surgical bra to minimize swelling and support your new breast contours. Dr. Szpalski will advise you as to when you may resume wearing regular bras.

Most patients need one to two weeks off work for the initial recovery. For at least four to six weeks, you should get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities like exercise. Instead, take short walks to promote circulation and healing.

Timeless Elegance

How Soon Will I See My Breast Reconstruction Results in NJ?

Recovery and results following breast reconstruction are uniquely personal, depending on the extent of the procedure. While most patients will notice immediate enhancements to their overall figure, patients should also expect swelling and bruising that lasts up to two months. It may take up to a year for tissues to completely heal and for scars to fade.

Along with adjusting to the physical changes of breast reconstruction, it’s normal for patients to go through emotional adjustments to their new breasts. Seeking help from a mental health professional may help diminish distressing feelings or anxiety.

Is Breast Reconstruction After Breast Cancer Covered by Insurance?

The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA) is a federal law that provides protections to patients who choose to have breast reconstruction in connection with a mastectomy. Thanks to this law, most insurances cover breast reconstruction using implants or flaps. Every patient who is receiving benefits in connection with a mastectomy and elects to have breast reconstruction should also get coverage for:

  • All stages of reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy has been performed
  • Surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance
  • Prostheses and treatment of physical complications of all stages of the mastectomy, including lymphedema

How Much Does Breast Reconstruction Cost in New Jersey?

Due to the unique nature of breast reconstruction in Glen Ridge, NJ, costs vary by patient, depending on surgical technique, anatomical needs, and aesthetic goals. Most insurance cover breast reconstruction; however, if it is not your case, Dr. Szpalski will determine the scope of your procedure and estimate your breast reconstruction in New Jersey cost.

Reclaim Your Feminine Figure with Glen Ridge, NJ Breast Reconstruction

Restoring the appearance of your breasts can increase your body confidence. Partner with one of the best breast reconstruction surgeons in New Jersey, Dr. Caroline Szpalski, to help reclaim your feminine identity. Learn about breast reconstruction near me options in Glen Ridge, NJ by calling (646) 777-0170 or completing our online form to schedule your consultation today!

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