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Breast reconstruction for breast cancer patients webinar

August 31, 2020

Summary by

Alon Rivel

Outcomes4Me sat down with Dr. David Light from New York Breast Reconstruction & Aesthetic Plastic Surgery to answer questions on breast reconstruction as it pertains to breast cancer patients. Dr. Light is a fellowship trained, board certified plastic surgeon with a dual practice, focused on breast reconstruction and aesthetic surgery. 

We have included the entire webinar video above for anyone who missed it and wants to watch it in full.  Here is a recap of the key takeaways from the discussion with Dr. Light:

>> What type of breast reconstruction is right for breast cancer patients?

Everyone is going to be a little bit different. The best reconstruction for patient A will be different than patient B. The first step is to go for a consultation. Your medical history will be reviewed and a physical exam performed. This will immediately reduce many options for reconstruction down to just a few that are appropriate for you. Then you can review the risks and benefits of each of those options and make an educated decision.

>> What are the RISKS and benefits of each type of breast reconstruction?

Generally speaking, post mastectomy reconstruction is done with either an implant or with a patient’s own tissue. The advantage of an implant reconstruction is that it is a faster surgery with a faster recovery time. The disadvantage is there is a more maintenance and it is not a permanent device, and may need to be replaced down the road. Two other concerns with implants include infections and capsular contracture. While the risk of infection is low, sometimes the only way to clear an infection is to remove the implant. Capsular contracture refers to tightening of excess scar tissue around the implant, which can result in an asymmetry and pain. The advantages of a natural tissue reconstruction is that creates a  soft, warm natural feeling reconstruction. Natural tissue flaps do not need to be replaced and are a permanent option for reconstruction. The disadvantage to natural scar tissue reconstruction is that it is a slightly longer surgery and recovery.

>> What are the options for women who are unhappy with their previous breast reconstruction surgery?

There are always options depending on what is bothering the patient. Sometimes the implant reconstruction can settle differently or you may want a larger or smaller sized implant as your weight fluctuates. That can be improved with a simple implant exchange. Other times there are more significant issues with the breast skin, scarring or complications of a previous implant reconstruction. In these situations we usually look to a natural tissue reconstruction to improve the outcome.

>> Does chemo/hormone therapy treatment impact a breast cancer patient’s ability to get breast reconstruction?

Simply put no. Chemo/hormone therapy does not impact a patients ability to get breast reconstruction or the type. It is important to note though that radiation can increase the chances of capsular contracture. Often times if a patient had radiation we may often choose not to have an implant as part of the breast reconstruction procedure. Chemotherapy does impact the timing of the procedure though depending on your treatment course. If you are undergoing hormonal therapy you can still typically operate during that treatment course.

>> IS RADIATION SAFE WITH SALINE IMPLANTS?

Yes – radiation is safe for breast cancer patients with saline implants.

>> Can you tell us more about any research currently happening in the breast reconstruction field and what the future looks like?

Breast reconstruction now in comparison to 10 years ago has certainly evolved. The implants and biologic matrixes, as well as, perforator flap techniques have greatly improved. More people are performing these surgeries as well which allows them to be more accessible to more patients. One current hot topic in the breast reconstruction space is sensory restoration of the breasts. Sensory restoration of the breasts essentially tries to restore the sensory nerves to the breasts. Making sure patients have a higher quality of life due to reconstruction is also something doctors are paying more and more attention to. Based on recent studies, breast reconstruction and delayed breast reconstruction has shown to improve quality of life for breast reconstruction patients.

If you are looking for more support, resources, or have additional questions, submit your question using the “ASK” tab in the Outcomes4Me app and we will do our best to help you find an answer.

For a limited time only board certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Light, is offering free consultations to all O4ME users. You can book your free consultation inside the webinar recap section on the homepage of the Outcomes4Me app.