Breast Reconstruction After Radiation Therapy

By Ravi Tandon, M.D. on July 18, 2019

Breast reconstruction after double mastectomyMany women feel that breast reconstruction surgery is a final step in feeling whole once they’ve finally beaten breast cancer. Whether using implants or autologous tissue to restore the breasts, the results of surgery can be excellent. Dr. Ravi Tandon has helped countless women in New Orleans, LA by performing breast reconstruction after they’ve overcome cancer.

With this in mind, treating breast cancer can cause a number of changes to the body. This is particularly true when women undergo radiation therapy. We’d like to consider how radiation can affect the results and patient satisfaction of breast reconstitution surgery. This will give you a realistic understanding of the surgical procedure.

Why Continue Radiation Therapy After a Mastectomy?

Even after having a breast or both breasts removed to fight cancer, radiation therapy may be continued in order to prevent the cancer from returning. This preventative measure is sensible, but it can affect the tissue around the breasts, which can lead to problems healing after a surgical procedure such as breast reconstruction.

Concerns About Radiation and Reconstruction Results

Poor aesthetic outcomes and surgical complications are an issue for many patients who undergo radiation therapy and implant-based breast reconstruction. According to a 2012 press release by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the risk of major complications for implant-based reconstruction patients after radiation therapy was 45 percent. This is compared to a 24 percent complication rate for implant-based reconstruction patients who did not undergo radiation therapy.

New Studies on Radiation and Implant-Based Reconstruction

There’s a newer study on this issue that appeared in a 2016 post on the University of Michigan’s Health Lab blog. In this study, 39 percent of patients who received implants and underwent radiation therapy experienced complications, compared to 22 percent of patients who received implants and did not undergo radiation therapy.

Your Health Is Our Primary Focus

We remind our breast reconstruction patients throughout the New Orleans area that their health and lasting wellness is always our top priority. That’s why breast reconstruction using implants may be delayed until after radiation therapy is completed.

While the breast reconstruction procedure offers an important sense of closure and renewed sense of self, remember that your fight against cancer is what takes precedent. We will be here to help when the time is right.

Adapting Breast Reconstruction to Your Health Needs

While implant-based reconstruction combined with post-mastectomy radiation therapy can lead to increased complication risks, there are other ways of performing the surgery. Flap-based breast reconstruction that uses a patient’s own tissue could be the best option; this is also known as autologous tissue breast reconstruction.

Autologous Tissue Breast Reconstruction and Radiation

Autologous tissue breast reconstruction tends to tolerate radiation therapy much better than implant-based reconstruction surgery. The same study in that University of Michigan blog post noted that complications occurred in just 26 percent of autologous tissue breast reconstructions with radiation therapy.

We can discuss the potential of flap reconstruction and other methods of rebuilding the breast mound with you as part of the consultation process.

Learn More About Breast Reconstruction Surgery

If you live in the New Orleans area and would like to learn more about your surgical options after beating breast cancer, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon. We are here to listen and to help. The team at Tandon Plastic Surgery can be reached by phone at (504) 455-1000.

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