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Reconstructive options after Breast Cancer Surgery

Dr. Amrita B Rao, Consultant – Plastic and Micro vascular Surgery, SUT hospital Pattom, Trivandrum

Breast cancer has become the most common cancer seen in young women in the state. The cause of this increase is multifactorial . We have had great advances in the treatment of this disease. Cure can be expected for a large percentage of patients.

One important factor that is ignored and the women are not generally aware of, are the reconstructive options after breast cancer surgery. Most women, even the urban elite are unaware that after removal of Cancer, the breast can be aesthetically reconstructed .Many women especially those with active professional careers have significant body image loss and psychological trauma after breast cancer surgery. These can be avoided with good reconstructive surgery methods available today.

Options for reconstruction are:

1. Using Skin and Fat from the abdominal wall.

Most Indian women have excess skin at fat over the abdominal wall especially after pregnancy. This can be detached from the abdomen and Re attached to the chest wall, after the removal of breast, so as to give back the beautiful shape of breast. Another advantage is that the women will get a nice flat abdomen after this surgery.

2. Skin muscle and fat from the back

In women who do not have adequate extra fat in the abdomen or for those who are undergoing partial breast excision for cancer, we can use skin and muscle of the back for recreating the breast shape. This scar is not visible outside and can be hidden under the bra strap or saree blouse.

3. Artificial implant Based

In very thin women who do not have excess skin and fat anywhere in the body or who do not want any additional scars on the body we can insert and implant under the muscle of the chest for creating the shape of the breast

Decision of Ideal reconstruction is only after discussion with patient and the onco surgeon. It is the oncosurgeon who decides what is best for the cancer treatment. The reconstructive surgeon, after discussing with the patient, regarding various reconstructive options, selects the best customised treatment for that particular patient.

Breast reconstruction following cancer Surgery has no Side Effects or negative impacts on cancer. All reconstructive surgeries are done after discussion and planning with the oncosurgeon regarding the surgical procedures and also further treatment for cancer, if required.

Breast reconstruction can be primary i.e., done along with Cancer Surgery or secondary as a second procedure after the complete treatment of cancer . Primary is best for the patient since it will be single surgery and anaesthesia. No stress of losing a breast and no emotional trauma as patient wakes up with body that is same as before surgery.

Such breast reconstruction is not cosmetic surgery but like knee replacement surgery it is breast replacement surgery where diseased breast is replaced. In western countries this is covered by insurance .In India to some insurance companies provide cover for such reconstructive surgery

Psychological benefits of reconstruction of breast after Cancer Surgery for women undergoing treatment of cancer cannot be overemphasized as more and more women become aware of these procedures the popularity is sure to increase.