What are balancing procedures in breast reconstruction? To achieve a more even result after breast cancer reconstruction, other balancing or matching procedures are offered. Insurance covers procedures performed on the healthy breast to help match it to the reconstructed breast to improve symmetry.
The reconstructed side is often more youthful in appearance than the healthy breast. In general, matching procedures can lift, reduce, augment or alter the shape of the healthy breast to match the reconstructed side. These may include:
- Breast lift (mastopexy). Patients with excess breast skin and downward-pointing nipples may wish to consider a breast lift or mastopexy to match the reconstructed side.
- Simultaneous breast augmentation and breast lift (augmentation mastopexy). Some patients may benefit from additional breast volume, tightening of the breast skin, and repositioning of the nipples to a more youthful position. Addition of a breast implant is not necessarily considered just to make the breast larger. It can also be used to provide fullness to the upper part of the breast, especially because many forms of breast reconstruction give greater upper pole fullness relative to the non-reconstructed side. This may be best achieved with both a breast lift and a breast augmentation at the same time, or an augmentation mastopexy.
- Breast augmentation. In patients with a small, healthy breast that has little redundant skin, a breast augmentation alone may be used to match the shape and volume of the reconstructed side.
- Breast reduction. In some cases, the reconstructed breast cannot match the volume of the healthy breast. In these cases, a breast reduction can be performed to improve the size- and shape-match with the reconstructed side.
Anesthesia: Balancing procedures are usually performed with the patient under general anesthesia.
Length of procedure: 30 minutes to 3 hours. Highly variable, depending on the technique required to perform the balancing procedure.
Estimated recovery time: Depends on the type of balancing procedure required.
Side effects: Common side effects include bruising and swelling. If an implant is required, the implant can eventually leak or form a capsular contracture. The breast may have some irregular contours after surgery. Delayed wound healing and infections may occur.
Before-and-after photos: Balancing procedures performed on the healthy breast are typically labeled throughout our breast reconstruction photo gallery.