Breasts are one of the most important organs of the female body, both visually and physically. It also has indisputable effects on women’s self-confidence. As a natural consequence of this, breast cancer is one of the cancer types that women are most affected by.
Breast surgery and breast reconstruction are extremely important for women diagnosed with breast cancer, and the main reason for this is that removal of the breasts can have serious negative effects on women’s psychology. Some women may face problems such as sexual reluctance, depression, difficulties in choosing clothes and fear of recurrence of the disease after mastectomy.
Breast reconstruction is the surgery performed to make the breast look as natural as possible after all or part of the breast is removed, and to make women feel better after this stressful process. Breast reconstruction surgery plays an important role in making women look better physically and feel better mentally.
Types of Breast Reconstruction
Before breast reconstruction surgery, the patient’s suitability should be evaluated by specialists in fields such as general surgery, medical and radiation oncology, and plastic and reconstructive surgery. In this way, the most appropriate treatment option can be determined for the patient and the operation process can be planned.
Breast reconstruction surgery for women who have had one or both breasts removed for cancer can be applied simultaneously (during breast removal) or at a later stage (after breast removal).
Simultaneous breast reconstruction is usually the case in breast cancer cases that are detected at an early stage. It is an effective surgery in minimizing the possible psychological problems that the patient whose breast is removed is facing by preserving the breast skin. In this context, while general surgeons perform mastectomy, plastic surgeons perform breast reconstruction during the same operation.
Late breast reconstruction is performed after a certain period of time after mastectomy.
What are the Types of Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
There are two main types of breast reconstruction surgery that can be performed after mastectomy: creating breast tissue from the patient’s own tissue and using breast implants.
Method applied is specific to the patient and is determined depending on factors such as age, general condition, extent of mastectomy, body structure, proportion of breasts and if the patient receives radiotherapy or not.
If the muscle and skin tissue in the area where the breast is to be reconstructed is insufficient, the use of autologous tissue may be preferred instead of implants.
Breast Reconstruction with Implants
Breast implants may have gel and saline contents. The outer surface consists of a silicon layer. In the breast reconstruction method with implants, the implants are placed in place of the removed breast tissue. Rarely, there is a risk of encountering conditions such as implant deflate and infection.
Breast Reconstruction with Autogenous Tissues
In this method, also called flap reconstruction, tissues taken from the patient’s body (autologous tissue) are used to create breast tissue. These tissues are usually taken from the belly, thighs or back. It is a more complicated method that require experience than breast reconstruction with implants.
This method, which is generally applied in late breast reconstruction, can be used in patients who have received radiotherapy and chemotherapy, who have not undergone breast reconstruction after mastectomy, or whose procedure has failed.
There is a risk that breast repair with implants in the area where radiotherapy is applied will not provide the desired result in terms of providing a natural appearance aesthetically. In order to avoid such a situation, breast reconstruction can be performed with tissues taken from the back, legs, abdomen and hips. Breast reconstruction with autogenous tissues may also be preferred in patients who have previously been implanted without success.
In some cases, especially in cases where the back tissue, which is a thin tissue, will be used in breast reconstruction, breast reconstruction using both implant and autogenous tissue may be performed.
In order to reconstruct the breast, the skin in the back, abdomen and hip region and the fat tissue under the skin are transferred to the relevant region together with the veins maintaining these structures. The veins of the transferred tissues and the nourishing veins in the area where the breast will be formed are sutured with the micro-surgical technique. In this way, the transferred tissues are maintained and new breast tissue is formed.
Multiple Operations May Be Required After Mastectomy
More than one surgery may be required to reconstruct the removed breast with a natural-looking breast. In the first operation, the breast tissue is created, while in the second operation, if the nipple is removed, the areola (the dark area around the nipple) and the nipple are formed. Sometimes it may be necessary to make fat injections into the new breast.
In case of unilateral breast repair, breast reduction, augmentation or lifting operations can be applied to the other breast to ensure symmetry.