Plastic and cosmetic surgery undeniably gained its popularity when the need for surgical interventions for aesthetic purposes became in demand. Augmentation procedures became the plastic surgeon’s pot of gold as countless numbers of women present to the clinics with their own ideas of how they ought to look like. However, plastic surgery is part of the overall cure for some breast cancer survivors who carry the wounds caused by disfiguring scars and chest. Breast reconstruction may be the solution for breast cancer survivors who suffer from body image issues, sexual dissatisfaction, or those who have a feeling that they are not whole.
Most breast cancer survivors actually aren’t aware of the options available for breast reconstruction. A number of techniques may be employed to restore what was lost due to malignancy. Options include using breast implants, using tissue flaps, or wearing prostheses.
Breast implants may be put in place immediately after the cancer surgery, or may be done in a two-step approach. Implants immediately put in place are an option chosen by patients who do not need to under radiation therapy after the cancer surgery. Implants are either made from silicon or are saline-filled. The use of tissue expanders primes the area where the implants are to be inserted. The tissue expander is gradually increased in size to help the surrounding soft tissue to grow an adequate amount of skin big enough to support the desired size of implant.
The two-step approach, otherwise known as staged breast reconstruction is favoured by women who have to be subjected to post mastectomy radiotherapy. This prevents the untoward cosmetic effect of radiation on implants if they were to be put immediately after the surgery. Delayed breast reconstruction is when a plastic surgeon comes into the picture way after the cancer surgery. This is when the patient is not aware of her options and is eventually informed that she can undergo reconstruction.
Tissue flaps are also a choice medium for breast reconstruction. This method uses the patient’s own tissue, usually from the abdomen or the back. A certain degree of skill is required from the surgeon that shall perform this procedure, due to the extensive amount of microsurgery involved.
The option of using breast prostheses may work for women who do not wish to undergo reconstruction surgery however feel the need to replace what has been removed by the operation. Silicon replicas of the breast are placed in bra cups and are worn over the chest.
Some patients however choose to remain as they are after the surgery – with a flat chest and a post-operative scar. According to these women, how they look now remind them of what have been through, and that they were able to survive such a hard time in their lives.
Contrary to the assumption that breast reconstruction is a beneficial for all post-operative patients, some studies show otherwise. In some studies conducted on patients after breast cancer surgery, patients who underwent breast reconstruction are still self-conscious as they were before reconstruction took place. On the other hand, patients who did not undergo breast reconstruction presented with improved psychological outlook. Given this, surgeons are advised to get to know their patients well and reconsider if having breast reconstruction may indeed benefit the patient or not.
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