Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy due to breast cancer is actually one of the safest plastic surgery procedures and probably the most reassuring surgical procedure for the patient.
The development of new techniques makes it possible for the plastic surgeon to create a breast; very similar in form, texture and characteristics to the patient’s non- operated breast. In addition, in the majority of cases it is possible to make the reconstruction at the same time as the breast removal, thus avoiding the traumatic experience for the patient of seeing herself without a breast.
The aim of breast reconstruction is:
● To recreate a natural looking breast, including the areola and the nipple.
● To eliminate the necessity of wearing an external false prosthesis – making it possible to wear articles of clothing that would be impossible without the reconstruction (bathing suits, low-necked tops, etc.)
● To fill the hollow and any resulting deformity there may be in the chest.
● To restore body image and to improve the quality of life for the patient. A breast reconstruction is permanent, allowing the patient to lead an absolutely normal life.
For the vast majority of the women with breast cancer, the reconstruction improves their self image, which facilitates greater emotional stability, and allows them to face the disease more positively and to enjoy a more active social and sexual life.
For whom and when can breast reconstruction be undertaken?
Almost all women who have had a mastectomy can, from a medical point of view, be considered as candidates for breast reconstruction, most of them simultaneously with the breast removal. The best candidate is one in whom the tumor can be completely eliminated during the mastectomy. When the breast is reconstructed simultaneously with the mastectomy (technically called immediate reconstruction), the patient wakens from surgery with a normal bust line, thus avoiding the experience of seeing herself with an amputated breast. The psychological benefit of this technique for the patient is obvious.
In some cases, nevertheless, the reconstruction can or must be postponed (technically known as deferred reconstruction). Some women do not feel comfortable speaking about reconstruction while they try to adapt to the fact of having been diagnosed with breast cancer; other women simply do not wish to undergo any more surgery than strictly necessary other than the treatment to cure the disease. In other cases, due to the use of more complex reconstructive techniques, it may be advisable to delay the reconstruction so as not to prolong the operation excessively. If medical problems related to obesity and hypertension are diagnosed, it can also be necessary to delay the reconstruction.
By whom and where is the breast reconstruction undertaken?
As soon as a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she should be informed of the possibility of reconstruction. The surgeon who does the mastectomy, the oncologist and the plastic surgeon must coordinate their actions to develop a strategy that provides the best possible result.
The plastic surgeon is the specialist, who due to his/her studies (specialising in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery), has the technical and aesthetic skills to achieve a natural looking breast reconstruction. After evaluating the general health of the patient, they will inform her of the most appropriate options for her physical and anatomical age, health, characteristics and future expectations.
The end result of a breast reconstruction is permanent and allows the patient to live a totally normal life. In the majority of breast removal patients, the reconstruction provides an improvement in self image, whilst also contributing to a psychological balance; which many patients have lost; by allowing them to see themselves as a whole person once again. In short this will lead them to enjoy an active social and sexual life and in time to forget the disease that led to the reconstruction.
Technique used by doctor Manuel Tafalla
The Dr Tafalla Breast Reconstructive Surgery Unit at the Ochoa Clinic is the only one specialised in breast reconstruction in the Malaga province, which emphasizes, among other things, their spectacular results using transference of the patients own fat (Lipofilling) to remodel the breast, thus obtaining natural looking, symmetrical breasts. Lipofilling is one of the latest techniques in aesthetic and plastic surgery being used in recent years. It involves injecting the patient with their own fat cells which are extracted from other parts of the body, generally from the stomach or the thighs. It is a very safe technique with no side effects, since synthetic products are not used there is no risk of rejection.