Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction after breast removal due to tumor or other disease is one of the most successful surgeries of plastic surgery. Thanks to new technologies in medicine, surgeons can now create a breast that is very similar to a natural breast. Today, these surgeries can be performed simultaneously with breast removal surgery (mastectomy). Thus, when the patient comes out of surgery, he has a new breast and gets rid of the psychological distress that a breastless period can cause.

However, it should be kept in mind that; Breast reconstruction after mastectomy is not a simple operation. There are many options to be decided by you and your doctor. Below you are given basic information about surgery; surgery time, how it’s done, and what kind of results to achieve. However, it is not possible to answer all the questions. Therefore, one-on-one talk with your surgeon will allow you to be better informed.

Who is the best candidate for breast reconstruction?

Almost all mastectomy patients do not have a medical barrier to breast reconstruction, and most patients are suitable for reconstruction simultaneously with mastectomy. However, the best candidate for breast reconstruction are patients where the cancer disappears completely thanks to a mastectomy. There can be many reasons to wait; for example, some patients do not want another surgery, some have difficulty accepting a cancer diagnosis, while they cannot consider breast reconstruction options. Some patients may have been advised to wait by their surgeon, especially in cases where the breast is reconstructed with the patient’s own tissue (flap transfer). Patients may also be advised to wait in cases such as obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.

All Surgeries Contain Some Uncertainty and Risk

Breast reconstruction can be performed in almost every woman who loses her breast to cancer. However, as with any kind of surgery, a number of problems may arise after this surgery.

General problems of surgery, bleeding, fluid collection or anesthesia problems can also be seen after this surgery, but it is rare. In smokers, wound healing may be delayed, impaired or more scarring may appear. Sometimes these problems may require secondary surgery. If a prosthesis is to be used, 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 later.

The most common problem occurs when the capsule contracture, scar tissue around the prosthesis compresses the prosthesis. This makes the breast feel stiff. There are some treatment methods for capsule contracture; sometimes it may require the removal and relief of scar tissue or replacement of the prosthesis.

Reconstruction has no effect on cancer recurrence and does not interfere with radiotherapy/chemotherapy. Your surgeon may recommend continuing peryodic mammograms in your normal breast and reconstructive breast.

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Your postoperative pain can be largely relieved by medication. You will be discharged from the hospital within 2 to 5 days according to the size of your surgery. In surgery, drains can usually be put in place that prevent the accumulation of fluids and they are taken in the first or second week after surgery. Stitches are removed within 7 to 10 days. 

Getting back to normal

It may take 6 weeks to return to normal after mastectomy and reconstruction or only flap reconstruction surgery. In prosthesis surgery, this period may be shorter. Normal sensation is not gained by reconstruction; however, some sense may come over time. Most of the time, the tracks may fade. But this period can be 1-5 years, and the traces never disappear completely. As long as the quality of the reconstruction is high, you will care less about these marks.

Listen to your surgeon’s advice on when to start moving and without egser. As a general rule, it can be good to avoid sexual intercourse and heavy exercise between 3-6 weeks. 

Your new image

Your new breast may look harder, rounder and straighter than your other normal breast. It may not have pre-mastectomy contours or be fully symmetrical to your other breast. These differences may seem obvious to you. For many mastectomies patients, reconstruction dramatically improves appearance and quality of life.