BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY AFTER BREAST CANCER:
According to studies, great progress has been made in the last 20 years in the treatment of breast cancer, which can be seen in one of every 10 women. Nowadays, in early-diagnosed breast cancers, the surgery method that protects the structure of the breast can be applied thanks to these developments.
However, depending on the course of cancer, unfortunately, mastectomy (removal of the entire breast with tumor) or skin-sparing mastectomy (a preferred method when the entire breast tissue needs to be removed but the breast skin can be preserved) still needs to be performed in the vast majority of patients.
And this situation, in turn, affects the psychological destruction process that cancer has already created, even more negatively. Happily, there have been many positive developments in the last 20 years in order to treat breast cancer more effectively, and the echo of these developments has also been reflected in breast reconstruction surgeries.
WHAT IS BREAST RECONSTRUCTION?
Breast reconstruction is an operation to reconstruct the shape of the removed breast in women who have undergone a mastectomy to treat or prevent breast cancer. Breast reconstruction surgery may show different characteristics depending on the course of the disease and the content of the mastectomy performed.
Breasts can be reconstructed using implants (saline or silicone), or they can also be reconstructed using the autologous tissue method, that is, with the help of tissue taken from the patient's body. In addition, if the patient's nipple and areola are not preserved during mastectomy; these structures can also be reconstructed in the final stage of breast reconstruction.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
As we mentioned above, there are 2 main methods:
Silicone Breast Prostheses:
In cases where it is not possible to use the patient's own body tissue in breast reconstruction, silicone breast prostheses are preferred because they do not require long surgery time and are a relatively safe reconstruction option. If the patient's breast tissue area is not infected, has not received radiotherapy to the breast or chest wall, and has undergone a prophylactic (protective) mastectomy, it is an ideal candidate for breast reconstruction with a silicone breast prosthesis.
In addition, many patients may complain of asymmetry between the two breasts after breast reconstruction. Another advantage of this method is that this procedure can be applied to the other breast to ensure symmetry, if the patient and the doctor have given permission. The disadvantages of this method can be listed as the risk of not giving good results aesthetically, the risk of infection, the risk of skin necrosis, the risk of capsule formation, slippage and asymmetry.
Autogenous Breast Reconstruction:
It is the process of creating breasts with skin, fat and muscle tissue taken from another part of the patient's own body. One of the most important advantages of autogenous breast reconstruction is that it is more likely to capture a natural image because the patient's own tissue is used.
In addition, the absence of risks such as infection, capsule formation, skin loss, and the need for silicone replacement is another important advantage of this type of reconstruction.
There are different options for autogenous reconstruction:
TRAM flap and DIEP flap using tissue taken from the abdomen, latissimus dorsi flap made from the back area, TUG flap made from the thigh, gluteal flaps made from the hip are the most important ones. Among these methods, TRAM flap is the most frequently used autogenous breast reconstruction option. You can find out which method is best for you after the interviews and examinations with your doctor.
WHEN CAN I HAVE BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
The answer to this question may vary depending on the course of your disease and the recommendations of your doctor who is responsible for your cancer treatment. Breast reconstruction surgery can be performed immediately during the mastectomy operation, if deemed appropriate by your doctor, this is called immediate reconstruction.
In addition, if you did not know about the existence of such an option or if your doctor did not consider this method suitable for you, the method which we call "delayed reconstruction" can be performed after your mastectomy incisions healed and the cancer treatment is completed. There is no deadline for you to undergo delayed reconstruction surgery. Patients can apply for this surgery months or even years after their mastectomy.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE MY BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY?
It is important for you to be in good physical condition before surgery. For example, if you are a smoker, it is highly recommended that you stop smoking. Because smoking negatively affects the blood flow and it is likely that it will also damage the blood flow to the breast tissue after surgery. And this can lead to a poor healing process and complications. It can also increase your risk of getting an infection. In addition, you should know that overweightness may cause some problems related to anesthesia during surgery.
It has also been proven that being overweight complicates and negatively affects your recovery process after the surgery.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECOVER FROM BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY AND WHAT TO EXPECT?
Breast reconstruction can be considered in the category of major operations in terms of recovery time. The average recovery time is between 6 and 8 weeks, and after this period the patient can begin to resume her daily activities.
At the end of this 6-8 week period, the bruising and swelling of your breast will pass. It may take 1 to 2 years for the tissues to heal completely and the scars to disappear. In this process, the use of bras and the choice of bra to be used are important criteria in your recovery process.
Be sure to discuss this matter with your doctor and follow his instructions. After healing, underwire or lace bras can put pressure on your wounds or irritate your skin. You can call Milano Klinik for more information.