For women that have lost a breast as a result of cancer or other serious medical condition, recovery is achieved on several fronts. Losing a breast can lead to a debilitating lack of confidence, affecting quality of life, and a positive approach moving forward can seem a ‘bridge too far’ after suffering such a setback. Therefore, along with providing reassurance and encouragement during this vulnerable time, plastic surgeons and former patients recommend breast reconstruction as an important stage of the recovery phase for most women.
Regaining symmetry of breast size and shape will restore positive body-image and improve long-term outcomes. The courage required to fight cancer and undergo a mastectomy cannot be underestimated, and it’s only natural that women who triumph over illness want to restore balance in every facet of their life. Fortunately for women in Sydney and surrounding areas, highly qualified help is at hand. Dr Peter Laniewski is one of our leading plastic surgeons specialising in breast reconstruction surgery, with the experience and expertise to provide solutions for every breast reconstruction scenario.
SUITABILITY FOR BREAST RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY
For most women, breast reconstruction is a valuable part of the healing process. As the patient, you are the priority and this isn’t the time to undergo an operation solely to fulfil other peoples expectations for a return to perfect body image. The damage caused by a mastectomy or other operation varies greatly from person to person, so every breast reconstruction is an individually tailored procedure. Breast reconstruction surgery can recreate a natural looking breast, but there are limitations in restoring the exact feel and appearance compared to the breast that has been removed.
Breast reconstruction surgery can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy in many cases. However, if you require further healing time from associated cancer treatments, the breast reconstruction can be delayed. Although it is a traumatic time, realistic goals and a positive outlook are necessary. With the right mind-set a breast reconstruction can become a physically and emotionally rewarding experience, and a huge step closer to regaining quality of life.
RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY METHODS AND OUTCOMES
Outcomes are variable depending on underlying conditions, and your new breast won’t have the full range of feeling as the one removed. There will also be visible incision lines on the breast as a result of the mastectomy or reconstruction. These will fade dramatically over time.
Modern breast reconstruction techniques as performed in Sydney by Dr Laniewski include tissue expansion and a breast implant. The tissue is expanded over successive weeks prior to the placing or the implant, and although the procedure can be temporarily uncomfortable, the final result is usually considered well worth it.
In some cases, a tissue flap skin graft is preferred, and although the shape of your new breast will be in symmetry there can be variations in skin colour and texture. In this situation, there will also be incision lines at the donor site, typically located in the buttocks, back or abdomen. Further improvements in symmetry can be achieved by undergoing a breast lift, breast augmentation or breast reduction for the opposite unaffected breast.
Nipple reconstruction is another procedure that will restore a more natural breast appearance. The nipple is usually removed during a mastectomy as a caution against the return of any cancer. Nipple reconstruction is often a relatively simple outpatient procedure performed under local anaesthesia. Many women have nipple reconstruction done after breast reconstruction when tissues have settled and healed. Adjustments to the position or size of the breast can also be carried out at the same time the nipple and areola are being rebuilt.