Scars, uneven and deformed breasts are some of the problems that women experience after an invasive breast surgery such as mastectomy. This was case for the past ten years until reconstructive breast surgery came along. With this, women no longer have to face the bad self-image impact brought by the scars and damage to their breast.
Breast reconstruction is the process of restoring the breast with body tissues or artificial material. This will help form a natural-looking breast. For women who lost their areola and nipple after an operation, they can still have it back after the reconstruction procedure.
When To Undergo Reconstructive Breast Surgery?
The best time to undergo the reconstructive breast surgery is when a patient is a good candidate for it. The breasts surgeon will help you to determine the right time for the operation.
They will also tell if you are fit for a certain kind of option. Here are the following options available, which will be applicable depending on the patients’ condition.
- Simultaneous Breast Reconstruction: This is also known as immediate breast reconstruction. The procedure takes place right after the mastectomy surgery.
Immediate breast reconstruction is the best choice for patients who do not need to go under breast irradiation process.
Patients will no longer have to see the damage of mastectomy, as they are already whole after waking up from the operation.
- Staged Breast Reconstruction: This procedure is for patients who require radiation therapy. The reason is that radiation can alter the appearance of a newly reconstructed breast. Furthermore, it will make the implant hard, deformed, painful and even exposed. Severe fibrosis is a possible risk if a patient has these factors.
- Delayed Breast Reconstruction: Physicians recommend patients that require radiation take up the delayed breast reconstruction method.
It gives an opportunity for the breasts to heal completely before undergoing another surgery.
Other reasons why surgeons pick the delayed process are unavailability of reconstructive surgeon or an advanced stage of breast cancer.
There are different ways to reconstruct a woman’s breast.
- Implants: Implants for reconstructive breast surgery are either saline or silicone.
It is also possible that the surgeon will use a combination of both. Implants go underneath the chest muscle, which is the same as the breast augmentation procedure.
- Flaps: Plastic and reconstructive surgeons are the ones who perform flap procedures. With the help of their specialization in microsurgery, they can create breasts out of tissue taken from different parts of the body. These tissues could come from the back, buttocks, thighs or abdomen.
After the transplant, the surgeon reconnects the blood vessels to the regions of the chest to provide blood circulation for the new breast. Since it requires a higher level of skill in microsurgery, the procedure can only be availed at specialized centers.
Different risks are associated with reconstructive breast surgery. Risks are also dependent on the patients’ medical conditions. Complications may take place if a patient has diabetes or high blood pressure. Obesity and malnourishment can also play a factor.
Aside from existing medical problems, patients who engage in unhealthy activities such as smoking are more likely to experience complications after the surgery.
Lumpectomy and radiation therapy, which happened prior to the reconstruction, may have an adverse effect to the surgery.
Though some patients are likely to be at risk, it does not mean that they won’t be able to undergo a reconstructive breast surgery.
This only shows the likeliness that the surgeon would recommend a delayed reconstructive surgery from the breasts instead of an immediate process.
Like other surgeries, a reconstructive breast surgery may expose the patients to some risks such as scarring, excessive bleeding and infection. Problems caused by the anesthesia may also inhibit. Seroma formation may occur on patients who went through the process of immediate breast reconstruction.
Patients who go through the flap surgery may notice some numbness in the flap and donor site. Extended time of healing, capsular contracture and silicone implant rupturing are other risks that a patient might encounter.
Recovery From The Surgery
The healing of a patient’s wound will depend on the body’s ability to regenerate. Apart from this, the surgeon will provide sufficient instruction to ensure that you recover fast and safely. Recovery will continue for several weeks.
To ensure a speedy and smooth recovery, one must simply avoid infection throughout the healing period.
It is necessary for a patient to avoid putting excessive force around the surgical area. Avoid lifting heavy objects and straining while the wounds are trying to heal.
Your plastic surgeon will provide complete instructions on how you can take care of the surgical area. Aside from this, you will get more information about recovery and the signs to watch out for after surgery. The doctor will prescribe medications to further aid the healing and prevent the infection.
A sufficient time of vacation is required. It will not be good for the surgical area to receive any kind of stress. You will need to take a leave from work and focus on your recovery. While under this period, you may need to wear surgical bra to give support on the affected area. Good nutrition also plays a big role in recovery.
Eat foods that are helpful for healing of wounds and rehydrate. Avoid smoking, stress and drinking alcohol so that it won’t badly affect the restoration process of your breasts.
Breast Cancer Screening Tests After The Surgery
Screening tests are important for patients whether they chose to wear breast forms or undergo the reconstructive breast surgery.
You should continue doing your monthly breast exams after the operation.
If you detect something unusual on your breast, you can bring up the issue to a specialist for further tests.
Reconstructive breast surgery provides multiple benefits and relief for women who encountered breast operations due to some serious medical reasons. A woman can also get back their esteem with this very helpful procedure. Before taking up this process, it is important for a patient to be well aware of its procedures, risks and required preparations.