Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in women, affecting 1:8 women in a lifetime on average. Breast reconstruction is the final step in a long, physically and emotionally draining journey, and is performed by reconstruction-expert plastic surgeons, in collaboration with the oncological and surgical teams.
Today more than ever, there are new surgical tools and techniques, that enable surgeons to support the patient’s aesthetic and body-image needs. Statistics show a continuous increase in breast reconstruction procedures, 29% more in 2018 compared with 2000!2
AT POLYTECH we are committed to patient education, and in view of October Breast Cancer Awareness month, we interviewed leading surgeons regarding breast health and breast reconstruction.
1. Breast-health screening tests
Early detection is key – there are less fatal incidents of breast cancer in recent years, which is attributed to early detection efforts and improved patient care. The recommended screening tests vary according to women’s age and personal health history. Follow the guidelines set by your local health organization, and in general perform at least a mammography or an ultrasound screening test from the age of 40.
Plastic surgeons generally recommend women with breast implants to have regular checkups annually, at their practice or with their regular physician.
2. Self-examination for women with breast implants
Surgeons should educate their breast augmentation patients on how to differentiate between the breast tissue and the edges of the implant, so that they feel confident with breast self-examination.
3. Screening tests for women with breast implants
As mentioned before, early detection is key, and one of the most common screening tests for women is mammography. There are special considerations for mammography with breast implants, and the radiology technician must be informed in advance. Read more here >>
4. Advice for breast reconstruction patient
Breast reconstruction is the final step in a long journey towards recovery. It is an elective procedure, that requires patience after a journey that is already long and draining. The main advice for reconstructive patients is patience, as often breast reconstruction requires more than one procedure.
5. The two types of breast reconstruction approaches
There are two main surgical approaches towards breast reconstruction:
- Breast reconstruction with implants
- Autologous or "flap" reconstruction, using tissue transplant from another part of your body (such as your belly, thigh, or back)
The two approaches can be combined.
Your surgeon will be able to recommend the best surgical approach for your specific reconstruction needs.
6. The difference between immediate and delayed reconstruction
Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately post the mastectomy (in a single procedure). Such reconstruction is called Immediate Reconstruction, and is usually performed in cases where there is no need for additional treatments (such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy).
In other cases, the surgeon may prefer Delayed Reconstruction, which is performed after the additional treatments are administered, and after a recovery period as recommended by the medical team.
7. The benefits of breast reconstruction
Breast reconstruction is an elective procedure and a very personal choice. It is the last step in a long journey towards regaining health and wellbeing. Among the benefits of breast reconstruction are a more balanced appearance of the breast with clothes and without, a regained breast shape, a more positive feeling of the patient towards her body-image and increased confidence.
8. Are there specific implants recommended for breast reconstruction?
Different breast reconstruction surgeons and patients choose different types of implants, according to the personal preferences, condition and needs of the patient. It is important to choose a plastic surgeon that is experienced in breast reconstruction, and review the different alternatives with your surgeon before making a decision.