If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, Dr. Azar and his staff are here to help you through this difficult time. We will provide you with information, options and support to help you make informed decisions about your body.
Breast reconstruction techniques and technology have advanced considerably to provide satisfying results for many women that often can last without requiring additional surgery. Board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Kouros Azar is highly sought after for breast reconstruction in the Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Simi Valley areas. With compassion and advanced skills, he has helped his patients restore their bodies and repair their self-image.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer or have already had a mastectomy or lumpectomy, request a consultation with Dr. Azar to discuss your breast reconstruction options. Or, you can call our office at (805) 373-7073 and one of our knowledgeable, supportive staff members will schedule your appointment.
Your Consultation for Breast Reconstruction
For breast cancer patients, there is a tremendous amount to learn about breast reconstruction options, and this comes at a time when they are already overwhelmed with emotions.
Having a friend or family member at your personal consultation will provide emotional support.
At the start, Dr. Azar recommends that patients spend at least 1 to 2 full hours with him. He prefers to break this time into 2 visits to give the patient time to digest the information from the initial consult and ask more questions during the second visit. Dr. Azar also encourages the patient bring a friend or family member to ask questions and to help remember what is discussed.
Federal law mandates that medical insurance cover breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients and for patients carrying the gene mutation for hereditary breast cancer (BRCA). While Dr. Azar is not a contracted insurance provider, as a courtesy to his breast cancer patients, he makes every effort to treat patients as though they were in-network to minimize or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses. His staff will carefully review each patient’s individual case.
Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately after the mastectomy or delayed until sometime in the future. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages. Most women choose immediate reconstruction because it reduces the psychological impact of having a breast removed. The patient wakes up from surgery already knowing her breasts are on the way to being whole again. Delayed reconstruction is a good option for women who did not have reconstruction at the time of their mastectomies. However, it is preferred to do reconstruction immediately on the day of the mastectomy.
In addition to treating breast cancer patients, Dr. Azar performs reconstruction for BRCA patients who carry the hereditary gene mutation for breast cancer.
Types of Reconstruction
Dr. Azar performs breast reconstruction using either a breast implant or the patient’s own tissue to replace the breast mound. This decision is based on several factors, including personal preference, individual anatomy and medical history.
After mastectomy, remaining breast skin and muscle are stretched gradually over time using a temporary, inflatable implant called a tissue expander.
Silicone implants help restore the feel of natural breast tissue.
The expander is then replaced with a silicone breast implant like those used for breast augmentation. Dr. Azar does not use saline breast implants for reconstruction because they do not provide as natural a result as silicone implants.
In some cases, the mastectomy can be performed using a skin-sparing technique called direct to implant. This technique eliminates the need for tissue expansion. In addition, the nipple and areola can often be saved.
Dr. Azar uses AlloDerm® (an acellular tissue matrix) for all implant reconstructions. It provides a natural barrier between the patient and the implant and helps improve the shape of the reconstructed breast. AlloDerm also allows for better coverage of the implant and decreases the risk of scar tissue forming, leading to results that feel soft and more like natural breasts.
Autologous Flap Reconstruction
When the patient’s own tissue is used to re-create the breast mound, it is called autologous flap reconstruction.
Using your own tissue can help decrease chances of allergic reactions as well as increase the natural feel of your chest.
Dr. Azar offers TRAM (transverse rectus abdominus muscle), latissimus dorsi and DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap reconstructions. DIEP reconstruction is a complex technique that requires Dr. Azar’s advanced microsurgical skills. This amount of detail requires two hands to perform the procedure. Dr. Azar enlists the assistance of another local, equally skilled colleague.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
After your reconstructed breasts have healed and you and Dr. Azar are satisfied with their appearance, he can perform nipple reconstruction as a simple outpatient procedure. He typically uses the C-V flap technique and incorporates a small piece of AlloDerm to provide some substance to the shape of the nipple. The areola is tattooed by a local medical tattoo artist.
Your Recovery & Beyond
Autologous flap reconstruction usually requires a longer stay in the hospital than implant reconstruction.
After breast reconstruction, most patients have a brief hospital stay, the length of which depends on the type of reconstruction performed. We recommend that a close friend or family member be available to help the patient for the first 1 to 2 weeks after mastectomy and reconstruction. In addition, physical therapy is essential to recovery from both mastectomy and reconstruction.
Why Choose Dr. Azar for Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is an important step toward recovery from breast cancer, and it’s essential to choose a plastic surgeon who is both qualified and compassionate. Dr. Azar is board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery, and he is a highly skilled microsurgeon. He keeps up on advances in technique and technology to provide his patients with the best available solutions.
Dr. Azar and his staff understand the emotional issues related to breast reconstruction. Dr. Azar understands that realistic expectations are extremely important in making sure the patient is happy with her results. He provides a variety of before-and-after photos to give patients an idea of the results they can expect.
Dr. Azar also strives to dispel the common misconception that reconstruction is painful. Above all, Dr. Azar and his remarkable staff take the time to listen to patient concerns and address them, and to help each patient feel the best she can about her decision.