Breast Reconstruction Surgery After Mastectomy
Breast cancer and its treatment options
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. When the breast cells grow rapidly and uncontrollably, it is said to be breast cancer.
There could be several reasons which could cause breast cancer including genetic variation, exposure to radiation, lifestyle habits, older age, etc.
There are many treatment options available for breast cancer nowadays. Some of the commonly used techniques are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
These methods can be used either as the main treatment method or adjacent to other methods to cure cancer. Major surgery is used to remove the tumor from the breast.
Mastectomy is a surgery of removing all the breast tissues from the breast to remove cancerous cells from the body. It is majorly used as an objective method to treat breast cancer.
It not only helps to remove cancerous cells from the body but also helps to control the spread of cancer in other regions of the body.
After mastectomy or removal of the whole breast, it is common for the patient to go under reconstruction of the breast.
The reconstruction can be done immediately after the surgery or delayed for some time, giving the body enough time to heal.
This article mainly focuses on the reconstruction of the breast after mastectomy surgery.
There are several types of reconstruction methods. Therefore, it must be kept in mind to consult your doctor before any reconstruction surgery as every individual has a different case.
There are different ways to get a breast reconstructed after surgery. Depending on the patient’s health condition and preference, the doctor will suggest the correct type of reconstruction method. Some of the commonly used types of methods to reconstruct breasts are:
- Using Implants –
Silicone implants and saline implants are commonly used to reconstruct the breast after mastectomy. You may have heard about them as cosmetic surgeries but in the medical field, these implants hold a lot more value than in other industries.
Most mastectomy is performed to preserve the majority of breast skin. These implants are placed under the skin to reconstruct the breast. Silicone implants are mostly preferred by patients as it seems real and the risk of them breaking is less than saline implants. It can be done during mastectomy surgery.
- Using Flaps –
Tissue flaps are taken from different parts of the body of the patient to replace the breast tissues in this process of reconstruction. Tissues from organs such as the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks are taken to rebuild the breast of a patient. Eventually, these flaps will act as breast tissue as they contain natural skin and other contents.
- Rebuilding nipple and areola –
After the reconstruction of the breast, the nipple and areola are reconstructed after 3 to 4 months when the body has healed. To construct a nipple, tissues are extracted from the reconstructed breast and the areola is constructed with an ink tattoo. In some cases, the areola can be rebuilt using other tissue as well as using ink tattoos.
Eligibility for reconstruction
Even after mastectomy any patient can get reconstruction surgery done but several factors must be fulfilled to make a patient eligible for the procedure. Some of these factors are:
- Stage of cancer –
Depending on the stage of cancer, the doctors plan treatment for breast cancer patients. Patients with early-stage breast cancer can be treated with mastectomy only whereas later-stage breast cancer patients might require radiation therapy after surgery.
It is done so to kill all the remaining cancerous cells in the body and avoid remission. Reconstruction surgery requires a lot of time to heal and hence it can hinder radiation therapy.
Therefore, patients with early-stage breast cancer can get reconstruction surgery immediately after or during the mastectomy but later-stage breast cancer patients must wait for a longer duration of time.
- The overall health of the patient –
Having an overall healthy body is important for reconstruction surgery. Patients who already suffer from chronic lifestyle diseases have to delay the procedure of reconstruction until they are completely healthy.
Some of the diseases that may interfere with the reconstruction process are diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiac disorder, etc. consult your doctor if you suffer from such diseases before going for reconstruction surgery.
- Body mass index of the patient –
Patients who have a BMI which is more than 40 are not considered to be a good candidate for reconstruction surgery, as there is a potential risk of failure of the process. Although these patients can consult their doctor for any other alternatives and possibilities of getting the surgery done.
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