Breast cancer is generally malignant (spreads to other body parts), usually begins in the lobules (milk-producing glands) or ducts (milk-draining passages extending from the lobules to the nipple) and can sometimes occur in the fatty and fibrous breast tissues. Breast cancer surgery involves the surgical removal of a tumor to prevent the spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. The surgical procedure to remove the tumor depends on the size and type of cancer. Your surgeon may excise the tumor as a lump (lumpectomy) along with a portion of healthy surrounding tissue (wide local excision) or remove the completely affected breast (mastectomy). Lymph glands may also be checked for the presence of cancer and removed during these procedures.
To restore the shape of breasts after mastectomy another surgical procedure called breast reconstruction is performed.
Primary breast reconstruction involves reconstructing the breasts immediately after excising a part or complete breast tissue. This is beneficial for the patient since two major surgeries are combined into a one-time procedure. However, immediate breast reconstruction may not be preferred if the patient has to undergo radiation therapy after breast cancer surgery. In such cases, your surgeon may insert temporary breast implants or tissue expanders or perform skin reduction during mastectomy to restore the shape of your breast. Delayed breast reconstruction is then recommended 6-9 months after the last session of radiation or chemotherapy. Delayed reconstruction can be performed at any time following removal of a part or the complete breast if further cancer treatments are not needed. This surgery is performed even after several years following breast removal.
Primary breast reconstruction has several advantages over secondary breast reconstruction. They include:
- Single surgical procedure
- Recovery period pertains to single surgery
- Less expensive
- No need to delay additional therapies such as chemotherapy or hormonal therapy
- Women do not lose self-confidence as the image of body is maintained