Considering breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is a very personal decision for each woman as each person’s journey is not the same as the other.
We have listed down and explained some of the main facts about breast reconstruction after mastectomy below.
Breast reconstruction surgery can be immediate or delayed after a mastectomy. Ideally immediate reconstructions are preferred aesthetically because it is easier to preserve skin which is also still malleable and soft making results more pleasing. While some women opt to undergo breast reconstruction immediately, some opt for delayed reconstruction which they may be performed months or years later.
Women who opt for delayed breast may do so for physical and emotional reasons as well as due to cancer-related circumstances such as the disease being in an advanced stage and requiring an extended period of monitoring. Women who are also undergoing post-mastectomy radiation treatment are also encouraged to hold off the breast reconstruction. Women who are active smokers or have other underlying conditions are encouraged to wait a while.
- There are different breast reconstruction techniques
Breast reconstruction techniques depend on various factors. One of the techniques is an implant-based reconstruction. These are two types. Firstly, one that involves a tissue expander partially filled with saline being temporarily placed under the chest muscle. Over the next weeks or months, more saline is added to expand the expander. Once the Plastic Surgeon is satisfied with the size of the space created, he/she then exchanges the tissue expander for a permanent implant in another surgical procedure. Secondly, placing a permanent implant from the start covered by an acellular dermal matrix which is a biologic mesh. This bypasses the expansion phase and minimizes the surgery to one stage only. This type is preferred if there is no radiation.
Another breast reconstruction technique is flap surgery. This involves utilizing tissue from the back, buttocks, or abdomen to reconstruct the breast. This technique results in the tissue feeling softer and more natural than an implant. However, more operative time and recovery time is required for the flap technique. A good candidate for this procedure should have adequate donor tissue or fat.
- Breast sensation after reconstruction can differ
The sensation level in the breast is different for every woman. In general, after mastectomy it is usual to lose almost all breast sensation and takes time for some sensation to return. However, women who have undergone the flap technique tend to experience some form of breast sensation sooner and at a higher level than those who have had the implant technique. It takes time to get used to the new breasts.
Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is a long journey that comes with both physical and emotional pain and the process can take a toll on someone. In general women find it easier to wake up with a new breast than with no breast and breast reconstruction can therefore offer a huge advantage emotionally. Still, a lot of psychological implications are involved with breast reconstruction and sometimes therapy is needed to learn to accept your new body. Breast reconstruction is a journey and learning to navigate through your new body is part of it.
- Age is rarely a factor in breast reconstruction
Older women who opt to undergo breast reconstruction are not prone to more risks involved in the procedure as their risks are the same as that of younger women. Thus, older women should not be discouraged from pursuing breast reconstruction surgery unless they have significant medical risk factors.
To Know More
Would you like to understand what options are available for Breast Reconstruction in Dubai? Meet one of our experts at Al Shunnar Plastic Surgery for a personal consultation to develop a tailor-made plan for you. Contact us or book an appointment and our patient care coordinators will identify the most suitable expert for you.