Being diagnosed with breast cancer instantly takes over a woman’s life. She may become filled with fear and anxiety and often cannot think beyond surviving treatment. However, a point will hopefully come where she can feel confident in her recovery. Thinking beyond your current treatment allows you to successfully plan for your life after breast cancer. Many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction surgery following their mastectomy to restore the natural appearance of their breasts.
Women often choose to undergo breast reconstruction following a unilateral or bilateral mastectomy. A mastectomy surgically removes breast tissue and glandular tissue to eliminate cancer cells present in the breasts. While some women decide not to undergo breast reconstruction following their mastectomy, many wish to restore the appearance they lost. Breast cancer can rob women of confidence in their body and their femininity. Women who choose to reconstruct the appearance of their breasts often feel it plays an important role in their recovery process.
Breast Reconstruction and Mastectomy
Dr. Kao prefers to work in conjunction with a board-certified surgical oncologist to perform your mastectomy and breast reconstruction. He becomes involved at the very beginning and works with the surgical oncologist to minimize scarring, limit the destruction of mastectomy skin, and spare the nipple as much as possible. Dr. Kao believes that if you can reconstruct the breast, it should rival a good breast augmentation. When he finishes reconstruction, he wants his patient to feel beautiful and forget she’s ever had reconstruction. This is the power of a really good breast reconstruction and what Dr. Kao strives for with every reconstructive patient.
Breast Reconstruction Procedure
There are a number of breast reconstruction techniques available. During your consultation, Dr. Kao will advise you on which technique will best suit your needs. His goal for any breast reconstruction is to reconstruct breasts that look just as good as, if not better than, they did before the mastectomy. Dr. Kao achieves this by reducing the amount of visible scarring, limiting implant visibility, and creating breasts that are balanced with the body.
Implant-Based Reconstruction With Fat Grafting
Dr. Kao’s preferred breast reconstruction technique uses a combination of implants and fat grafting. Most women qualify for this technique unless there is extensive scarring from the mastectomy. An irradiated breast or chest wall does not always preclude an implant reconstruction. An in-depth consultation with Dr. Kao will help determine the best method of reconstruction. Implant-based reconstruction with fat grafting provides beautiful results without a scar on the belly or back.
To prepare the breasts for implant insertion, Dr. Kao places a tissue expander with an Acellular Dermal Matrix (ACDM) immediately following the mastectomy. The tissue expander is left in place for three months, and it slowly expands during this time to create a properly sized breast pocket for the implant. Newer anatomically shaped silicone implants can allow for a more natural breast appearance that fits your body’s curvature. Dr. Kao inserts implants that are sized to achieve 75 percent of the desired breast volume. Following implant placement, fat grafting is used to improve the shape of the breasts and add the final 25 percent of volume.
Fat grafting is a “game changer” for breast reconstruction. The transferred fat helps thicken the breast tissue, which prevents visible rippling, and it fills in indentations on the breast wall for a natural and smooth breast appearance.
One-Step Implant Reconstruction
Women with naturally small breasts who wish to restore a breast of a similar size could benefit from one-step implant reconstruction. This technique eliminates the need for a tissue expander, and the implant is inserted immediately after the mastectomy. Dr. Kao’s goal is to preserve breast symmetry by matching the size and shape of your breasts.
Latissimus Dorsi Flap With Implants
Dr. Kao performs a latissimus dorsi flap with implants in specialized situations. For unilateral reconstruction case, he uses this technique to help match the naturally drooping breast when a TRAM flap is not available. He also uses this technique to salvage a breast in situations where there is a problem with implant erosion related to infection or radiation. This procedure transfers skin, fat, and muscle from your back to form a new breast mound, and it provides vascularized tissue to cover an implant. The scar is hidden in your bra line.
TRAM Flap or DIEP Flap
If Dr. Kao decides that you are not a proper candidate for implant-based reconstruction or latissimus dorsi flap, he may utilize a TRAM flap or DIEP flap technique. The TRAM flap harvests skin, fat, and muscle from the abdomen and transfers the tissue to create the breast mound. The DIEP flap uses the same donor abdominal location but takes only skin and fat, preserving the muscle. These techniques are last resorts for Dr. Kao because they can affect the strength and integrity of the abdominal wall, resulting an irregularly shaped stomach.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction
Dr. Kao attempts to preserve the nipple during the mastectomy as long as it is oncologically sound to do so. In cases where sparing the nipple is not possible, Dr. Kao uses additional tissue during your reconstruction to create a new nipple. If the mastectomy is performed through the incision after the nipple and areola are removed, Dr. Kao will reduce the length of the mastectomy scar. When Dr. Kao reconstructs the nipple areolar complex, he does it within the scar, so when it is tattooed, there is no visible mastectomy scar. Tattooing is often utilized to restore the natural color and appearance of the nipples and areolas.
Patients who undergo implant reconstruction using a tissue expander and fat grafting will have a recovery similar to a regular breast augmentation. You will need to limit your physical activities for four to six weeks following your procedure. Depending on personal preference, some women can return to work within two weeks. You may experience some additional discomfort at the site of liposuction used for your fat transfer.
Patients who undergo a flap technique will require a more lengthy recovery. If muscle is removed, patients may need to undergo several months of strength training to regain proper use of the back and shoulders.
Many women feel that their newly reconstructed breasts help them feel comfortable and confident with their body following breast cancer. Breast reconstruction plays an important role in helping women emotionally heal from their breast cancer battle. While Dr. Kao’s techniques minimize excessive scarring, mild to moderate scarring may develop, which will likely fade over time. You may regain sensation in the breasts after a period of time.
What Dr. Kao’s Patients Are Saying*
I am thrilled with my experience. Doctor, staff and results exceed my expectations.
Dr. Kao is amazing. He literally held my hand throughout a 15 month process for a prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction. His staff is amazing….accessible, lovely and so patient and caring. You will be in great hands. And, the final result is awesome!
by Emily Whitesell
Dr. Kao did my reconstructive surgery after I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had FOUR partial mastectomies. He is a genius. He used an innovative fat grafting procedure and avoided using an implant. The man is a genius. I look better than I did before my cancer surgery.
I can’t say enough about Dr. Kao and his team. After being diagnosed with breast cancer my husband and I met with several plastic surgeons. We went with Dr. Kao for several reasons. He sat with us for a long time and very specifically laid out with his amazing drawings what his plan would be. He also told me that he would do the surgery without scars which was something no other surgeon was offering. 2 years later I am cancer free and have AMAZING reconstruction. Dr. Kao is a perfectionist so if you go with him you have to be prepared to go the distance but the outcome is worth it. His office staff and nurses are professional and caring. Dr. Kao takes insurance but you will also have to supplement which is well worth the outcome.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | my experience
by Heidi G.
first i must say before we discuss dr. kao, his staff of lovely ladies, with out them dr kao would be lost. when i discovered my left breast had a cancerous tumor i knew i need to put together my “team”. my initial surgeon choice was a no brainer for me, kristi funk, i knew her before my diagnosis. i ended up having a bi lateral mastectomy. bad genes bad family history. now my problem was choosing a breast reconstruction doctor. i interviewed many doctors, paid many fees. it was all ok because you have to find the right doctor for you. dr kao was interview 5 or 6 i believe, there were so many. i had to find the right reconstructive doctor before my initial breast surgery so both doctors could work together putting me back together beautifully. understand your health insurance company isnt going to pick up dr kao’s bill, the hospital bills yes. possibly a little bit but not that much. dr kao made me beautiful new breasts, nipples included and no ugly scars. NONE! all my friends have been quite impressed. dr kao what a breath of fresh air when we first met. he looks you in the eyes when he speaks to you. dr kao drew pictures of what he intended to do. wonderful! no other doctor i interviewed did this. reconstructive surgery is a long process. almost a 2year process for me from step 1 to the finish nipple tattooing.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | HIGHLY RECOMMENDED SURGEON
Dr. Kao is incredibly professional, easy to work with and most importantly delivers exactly what you are looking for. I was diagnosed with one of the breast cancer genes. As traumatizing as it was to hear how likely I was to develop breast cancer, and I would need to remove my breasts to reduce that chance, Dr. Kao was able to turn the experience into a positive one. He met with me as much as I needed him to and was an incredible listener. He ended up providing exactly what I was looking for. I had large breasts that I wanted to reduce in size. He listened to everything he made sure everything looked symmetrical, fit my body and was proportional. Hands down he is the best Doctor out there. I would STRONGLY recommend him for any type of treatment. If he could work with someone as complicated as a prophylactic double mastectomy reconstruction, I am confident he can do anything.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | PLEASE READ THIS!!!
Do not let insurance or out of pocket costs be the determining factor in choosing your doctor. These are words I would be looking to hear if I had to make this very important and difficult decision. Had I taken that advice, I would have chosen Dr. Kao from the very beginning. Dr. Kao, a highly renowned plastic surgeon, not only in reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, but in reconstruction on a prophylactic double mastectomy due to my BRCA positive gene. This is a very important decision. In my current ongoing experience with Dr. Kao, I have found him nothing short of professional, innovative, meticulous, engaging and most of all compassionate toward women. He will take his time. He is not looking for the quickest way to do this procedure. He is looking for the BEST way to do it. His expertise and keen sense of balance in plastic surgical procedures left me nothing short of ecstatic after having him correct a breast from a terribly botched surgery by another plastic surgeon. He was willing to do this. He told me that it had to be done with very delicate hands and although he knew it would be difficult, he had the skills to repair the damage that had been done. He has integrity. He is humble. He has been supportive emotionally, ethically and professionally and I recommend him WITHOUT reservation. Every day I look in the mirror, I see the reflection of his commitment to perfection. His staff that works with him are amazing as well. They are as professional, kind and compassionate as he is.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | So glad I found Dr. Kao
Hearing the diagnosis – you have cancer and need to consider a double mastectomy- are words you never want to hear. Finding Dr. Kao, seeing photos of his reconstruction results, and listening to his confidence in his abilities to make you as good as (or better) than new made the decision much easier for me. One year later, the process is complete and I love the results! I not only feel confident in a swimsuit but feel excellent when naked. No one would ever know what I have been through and at age 54, I am perkier and more balanced than nature would allow. I am every pleased with the results.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Miracle worker
by Terry Kaspar
His manner is kind and compassionate, his skills and love of art compliment his technical abilities. The reconstructive work he’s had to do with me was nothing short of a miracle. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I will share with you photos of my previous surgeries to show the challenges he had to face when he met me. On a final note, after everything, the biggest surprise was to have a sensation return in both my breasts and nipples! I told you he was a miracle worker! I know it’s because of his unique skills that he was able to preserve the nerves. I can say I can truly blessed and Dr. Kao is a blessing! Let me talk freely about this man, I have been a surgical nurse for over 20 yrs and have worked with hundreds of plastic surgeons. I have never seen such beautiful work as I have with him. He’s kind, thoughtful and compassionate. He’s an artist not only in the operating room but through photography, sculpting, and painting. His hands are absolutely touched by an angel. He saved my life and I am healing emotionally. Because of him i am moving forward from my traumatic past.
by Zohreh Machuga
The best plastic surgeot [sic]. Thank you Dr. Kao.
All of my expectations have been exceeded by Dr. Kao. I have never been happier. He has an amazing bed side manner, he takes his time, he cares! And that’s not getting into his work. He is a perfectionist. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. He’s changed my life.
Dr. Kao is an amazing, talented surgeon. He implemented his vision and restored my body completely. He was there with me during my bi-lateral mastectomy and remained my surgeon for every stage of reconstruction. I never felt alone. Breast reconstruction is a complex process. The journey can be daunting, but Dr. Kao and his staff have the compassion and support a breast cancer survivor needs to keep going. They always cheered me up and kept me hopeful. I am so grateful. He made my body look beautiful, just as he promised. Thank you Dr. Kao and your wonderful, caring staff.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | THE BEST!!!
Dr Kao has to be THE BEST plastic surgeon… I have had multiple breast surgeries from well respected doctors and Dr Kao BLEW me and my husband away!! (Not to mention all my friends and family who saw my results.) He has a wonderful bedside manner. He is a perfectonist, which is what you want in a surgeon. He makes you feel COMPLETELY comfortable. He takes his time to be sure your results are PERFECT! Dr Kao is worth a flight to LaLaLand if you live elsewhere. He was recommended by another fine doctor in another field whom I highly respect and I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am. My breasts look better than I could have imagined!!! I would give him 6 stars if I could!!!!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Miracle worker
Dr. Kao is one of the most talented surgeons today. His artistic approaches are engaged with precision and is unbelievable I came to him with a severe disfigurement. After 6 surgeries under my belt, he turned the impossible to possible. The results I have to date are absolutely incredible and has eased my heart physically and mentally. He is known as “the fixer,” and “the breast whisperer” but I’d like to call him my miracle worker.
Dr. Kao is very personable and attentive. He was recommended to me by my oncologist’s office for my breast reconstruction and did a wonderful job. I then went back for some much needed facial cosmetic surgery and couldn’t be happier. It’s been 5 years now and I am still telling people about Dr Kao! I highly recommend Dr. Kao and his very professional staff!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Exceptional
As a reluctant patient, following two breast cancer reconstruction surgeries with a different surgeon, I was skeptical about facing a third intense surgery. My oncologist urged me to do so and she was right. Putting yourself in Dr. Kao’s hands, trusting his brilliant technical skills and his sense of aesthetics was the best thing I’ve done for myself. He is kind, caring and exceptionally talented. The entire team at his office have been wonderful as well. I consider the whole experience a blessing. I recommend him wholeheartedly.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | As good as it gets
Dr. Kao has done my breast cancer reconstruction. He is an artist, no one does a better job and he is a terrific human being as well. Absolutely nothing has gone wrong, the staff is beyond kind and professional.
Dr. Kao has done both breast reconstructive surgery and facelift surgery on me. He is one of the finest, if not the best doctor in Southern California. He is beyond a surgeon, he is an artist in every aspect of his work. While in his office, I’ve met some of his patients who have traveled from other countries just to have him do their surgery. He is thorough in his consultation and is extremely kind and sensitive to all issues. I’ve talked with doctors and nurses who have worked along side him and he’s held in high regard with everyone with whom I spoke. Any person would be lucky to have him as their doctor.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ | Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I want to let everyone know how much I appreciate all Dr. Kao has done for me. About 3 years ago, I came to him after chemo, radiation & 2 surgeries for breast cancer. The cancer was gone, but the side effects of radiation were very evident! I was very unhappy with the appearance of my breasts, but did not have a lot of confidence that it could ever look normal again. All I can say, is that in the end, Dr. Kao has performed a miracle! My breasts not only look great, they look even better than before I had cancer! Dr. Kao took so much time with me & is truly a perfectionist. I had total confidence in him. I can now say that I am cancer free & look good too! Thank you so much Dr. Kao!!!
*All of the above patient reviews of Dr. Kao are from vitals.com.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are going to undergo a mastectomy, schedule your consultation to see how a breast reconstruction could benefit you. Dr. Kao is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. He and his helpful, friendly staff are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Contact our office at 310-315-9211, or fill out our online contact form for additional information.
Schedule a consultation
Please fill out the form below to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kao