Post Cancer Breast Reconstruction

If you or your family member is a breast cancer patient and are seriously considering breast reconstruction surgery, you have arrived at the right place.

Apart from suffering from breast cancer, its treatment requires either a complete breast removal/mastectomy or lumpectomy/ removal of the lump and hence, the need to consider a breast reconstruction surgery.

Ideally, the patient should give the option of breast reconstruction surgery, a serious thought before breast removal/mastectomy, or lumpectomy/ removal of the lump.

It is possible to seek a breast reconstruction procedure at the same time when the breast removal procedure is done. This does save a repeat hospital trip and a great deal of surgical trauma.

Why breast reconstruction surgery?

For a woman, losing one or both breasts can be stressful and make her feel incomplete. With advancements in medical science, it is possible to go for reconstructive surgery.

Indeed, it is a milestone development, which most women can undergo provided they wish to look complete once again.

There are two types of breast reconstruction surgery,

    • Implant reconstruction:

    • Autologous or “flap” reconstruction:

Implant Reconstruction

After removal of the breast, a silicone implant is used to reconstruct the breast; preferably a muscle flap from the patient’s back is taken to cover the implant and then the skin is closed. The addition of a muscle flap reduces the chances of implant infection.

Merits: Simpler procedure

Demerits: Implant infection, implant extrusion, poor tolerance to radiation

Anaesthesia: General

Autologous or “flap” reconstruction

The reconstructive surgeon will reconstruct a breast from tissues or flap from other body areas such as the abdomen or thigh. The flap is shaped to form a breast mound and its circulation is re-established. 

In patients undergoing breast-conserving therapy flaps from the back are taken to reconstruct the volume loss and provide symmetric breasts.

Merits: Superior reconstruction, minimal risk of infection, better tolerance to radiation

Anaesthesia: General

When to go ahead with breast reconstruction?

When to go ahead with breast reconstruction?

Timing of reconstruction:

Primary breast reconstruction: The best time to seek breast reconstruction is at the same time the tumour or lump removal surgery is performed, that is, in the same sitting. A single surgery can take care of breast removal and breast reconstruction in the same admission and anaesthesia.

Secondary breast reconstruction: 

Undertaken after completing the cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. It is a viable option, but the patient will require a subsequent hospitalization and yet another surgical experience, including anaesthesia and post-operation pain.

Breast Reconstruction After Breast-Conserving Surgery:

This procedure is recommended to a patient undergoing breast-conserving surgery wherein the tumour or lump in the affected breast is removed. In doing so, the breast volume reduces significantly, making it look different in size from the other normal one. 

Here, the Breast Reconstruction procedure involves working on the conserved breast to restore the volume and maintain a symmetrical dimension with the normal breast.

There are three options feasible after lump or tumour removal surgery viz.

    • Repositioning surgery

    • Replacement surgery

    • Reduction surgery

Points to remember

General Anesthesia is administered for all breast reconstruction procedures

    • The length of hospital stay depends upon the type of breast reconstruction procedures chosen, which could vary between two to six days

    • It takes nearly two weeks to recover well from this procedure

Risks involved in breast reconstruction surgery

There are chances that the patient may develop

    • Infection

    • Blood clot or bleeding

Breast Reconstruction Surgery

The option of breast reconstruction is quite essential in completing any breast cancer removal surgery. It gives a great aesthetic outcome to the patient and she feels so much more psychologically secure.