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Often, surgery forms an essential part of breast cancer treatment. You may ask your surgeon about your options to reconstruct the shape and appearance of your breasts while you heal. This will help you understand your options for breast reconstruction surgery. Here is a quick guide.
Breast reconstruction surgery comprises a series of plastic surgery techniques that aim at rebuilding the size, shape, and look of the breasts after a mastectomy. It aims at getting the surgical site to its near-normal appearance and feel.
There are two basic options for deciding when to schedule your breast reconstruction surgery.
Here, the surgery takes place at the same time as the mastectomy. This way, it preserves the breast skin, increasing your chances of a normal-looking breast after the cancer treatment.
You can delay the surgery until after the cancer treatments. In the meantime, the surgeon places a temporary tissue expander, allowing the skin to stretch in readiness for the reconstruction surgery at a later date.
It is important to delay your surgery if you still have to go for radiation therapy, or if you smoke or have other health problems. More so, if you find it overwhelming to deal with both the cancer treatment and the reconstructive surgery at the same time.
Here, the surgeon prepares a saline or silicone gel that is used to create the breast mound. Implants are appropriate at the same time scheduled for a mastectomy. If this is the case, the surgeon will remove the cancerous tissues and replace them with the implants.
Often, the surgeon may ‘borrow’ tissue from the back, tummy, thighs, or even buttocks to rebuild the breast. This tissue flap procedure has a more natural feel and look than implants. Plus, they will adjust to your body shape as you gain or lose weight over time.
Still, flaps take longer to heal. They can cause more scarring, and are not ideal for persons who smoke, have diabetes, or a connective tissue disease.
After the surgery, the surgeon places bandages or gauzes at the incision sites. Also, you may have to wear a support bra to minimize the swelling. Further, the doctor will prescribe drugs, pain pumps, or local anesthetics to manage the pain. Then, you have to care for the surgical site for several weeks until it heals.
Today’s breast reconstruction surgery is quite safe. But, some patients may experience bleeding, poor healing of the incision areas, or an infection. The implants may rupture or result in somewhat firm breasts. Risks with tissue flap surgery includes loss of sensation to the reconstruction site. In extreme circumstances, the patient may have a partial or complete loss of the flap as her body rejects the ‘borrowed’ tissue.
As you make decisions regarding your breast reconstruction, talk to your doctor, who will explain all the possible risks. The doctor considers the stage of breast cancer, its characteristics, and the surgeon’s advice. Use this advice to make an informed decision about your health. To schedule a consultation at Gawley Plastic Surgery, call (480) 842-8606.