A mastectomy is a surgery that removes one or both breasts of a woman who has been diagnosed with or runs a high risk of getting breast cancer. Apart from the trauma of the illness as well as the surgery, it can be extremely disturbing to entirely give up a part of one’s body. In such a case, breast reconstruction is an option to fall back on.
What are the types of breast reconstruction surgeries?
Breast reconstruction involves the creation of a breast shape using an artificial implant and/or a piece of tissue from another part of the body.
Breast implantation uses implants filled with silicone gel or saltwater to lend shape to the artificial breasts. It is done immediately after breast removal, or after some delay. It requires two or more operations, usually done by a plastic surgeon.
What are the risks?
The following conditions may accompany breast implantation and might require further surgery:
- Asymmetry in the appearance of the breasts
- Changes in breast sensation
- Rupture or deflation of the implants
- Poor healing of incisions sometimes leading to scar tissue that squeezes the implant
- Pain, bleeding, and infection
- A rare immune system cancer called ALCL (anaplastic large cell lymphoma)
In this method, the shape of the breast is formed using a flap tissue. The surgeons usually take it from the belly, buttocks, thighs or the back. Unlike implants, this tissue flap lasts a lifetime. The flap can be completely detached from its original blood vessels and moved to the chest, or can remain attached to its blood vessels and simply moved under the skin. This, too, can be done immediately or delayed as required.
What are the benefits and risks?
Flap reconstructions help in tolerating radiation therapy better than artificial implants. In addition, the size of the flap reconstruction will increase or decrease according to changes in the body.
However, like the implantation procedure, flap reconstruction also almost always requires later adjustments through surgery – whether for nipple reconstruction, reshaping or repositioning. Also, the healing process after surgery involves two to four body areas healing at the same time – the receptor sites and the donor sites.
Breast reconstruction will not make the body look exactly as it was before, nor will it restore the sensation in the breasts. But it does a lot to improve body image and to help one deal with the aftermath of treatment.
It is advisable an experienced surgeon before going ahead with the procedure. For instance, a surgeon tells you that it is easier to recover from a mastectomy and that delayed reconstruction also heals faster than immediate reconstruction.
Visit your nearest Apollo Cosmetic Clinic for more information on breast reconstruction after mastectomy.