Things to Know About Breast Reconstruction
Breast Reconstruction is one of the breast surgeries that women need. We have prepared this blog post in order to find answers to your questions about this subject.
The breast reconstruction they perform after removing the breast due to a tumor or another disease is one of the most successful operations of plastic surgery. Thanks to new technologies in medicine, surgeons are now performing a breast reconstruction surgery that looks very similar to a natural breast. In this way, the patient has a new breast when he leaves the surgery, and he gets rid of the psychological distress that a breastless period can give.
However, it should be kept in mind that; Post-breast reconstruction is not a simple surgery. There are many options available to you and your doctor to decide. Below we have given you basic information about the surgery. However, it is not possible to answer all questions. Therefore, speaking with your surgeon personally will provide you with better information.
Who Are Good Candidates for Breast Reconstruction (repair)?
Almost all mastectomized patients may be suitable candidates for breast reconstruction. These patients can perform mastectomy (breast removal) as well as breast reconstruction (repair). However, some patients tell their surgeons to wait for breast reconstruction surgery (for example; if they are going to repair the breast with the patient’s own tissue (flap transfer, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking).
What are the Prosthesis Types Used in Breast Reconstruction?
The outer part of all breast prostheses is made of silicone. Inside, there is silicone gel or saline (salt water mixture). They can use these two types of prosthesis safely.
Breast Reconstruction Surgery
They can use different techniques in breast reconstruction. The method specific to each patient’s condition and physiology becomes clear by talking to the patients under the guidance of the surgeon.
Expanding the skin: The most common technique used in breast reconstruction is to expand the skin, then to place the prosthesis.
Mastectomy: After the breast removal surgery, they place a tissue expander under the breast skin and chest wall muscle. In the weeks or months after the surgery, the surgeon injects saline water through the port placed under the skin. Inflates the tissue expander.
After the skin reaches a sufficient width, they remove the tissue expander with a second surgery and replace it with a permanent prosthesis. They make the areola (brown ring around the nipple) and the nipple later.
In some patients, there is no need to enlarge the skin, and it is possible to place permanent prostheses at the same time with mastectomy.
Flap reconstruction: Instead of placing a breast prosthesis, we call the method of making breast by taking tissue from another part of the body (abdomen, back or hip) flap reconstruction.
There are also different types of flap reconstruction:
Flap reconstruction is a more complicated procedure than using a prosthesis. After the operation, scars remain in the places where they both remove the tissue and make the breast. In addition, the healing process can be longer than the prosthesis method. On the other hand, the result can be more natural in breast reconstruction with your own tissue. Sometimes, getting rid of excess skin and fat in areas such as abdomen, hips, where they take the tissue can be a separate gain for you.
Process After Breast Reconstruction Surgery
After breast reconstruction surgery, your pain is at a level that you can control with painkillers. You will be discharged from the hospital within 2 to 5 days. Usually, they install drains to remove the fluid that accumulates between the tissues from the body. They remove drains 1–2 weeks after surgery. The stitches are removed in about a week and 10 days.
It may take 4–6 weeks for you to return to your normal life. You cannot gain normal sensation with reconstruction. However, there may be some sensation over time. Most of the post-operative scars disappear over time.
The Risks of the Surgery
Almost every woman who has lost her breast due to cancer can perform breast reconstruction. However, as with any type of surgery, some problems may arise after this surgery.
Bleeding, fluid collection or anaesthesia problems, which are the general problems of the surgery, can also be seen after this surgery. However, it is rare. In smokers, wound healing may be delayed, impaired or more scarring may appear. Sometimes these problems may require secondary surgery. If they are going to use a prosthesis, there is rarely a risk of developing an infection within two weeks. In some such cases, it may be necessary to remove the prosthesis and put it back in months.
The most common problem we see, capsule contracture, occurs when the scar tissue around the prosthesis compresses the prosthesis. Thus, the feeling of hard breast emerges. There are some treatment methods for capsule contracture; sometimes it may be necessary to remove and relieve the scar tissue or change the prosthesis.
Reconstruction has no effect on cancer recurrence and does not interfere with radiotherapy — chemotherapy. Your surgeon may recommend that you continue with periodic mammograms of your normal breast and reconstructed breast.