Breast cancer continues to be one of the most frequent types of this disease. For women, this is not only a terrible illness but also often involves a mastectomy or removal of a breast. Women then have to face both the cancer and the loss of a breast or, in other words, the loss of part of their femininity.
Breast reconstruction is often an essential step towards regaining normality as it not only reconstructs a lost organ but also helps to regain femininity and helps the woman to forget her terrible fight against her illness.
The plastic surgeon´s aim is to create a new breast that is as close as possible to a natural one. Breast reconstruction does not interfere in the treatment or in the subsequent monitoring of breast cancer, evidenced by the fact that more and more oncologists recommend it.
The choice of the appropriate technique will depend on the characteristics of the illness and each patient. When more than one technique can be applied, the patient and surgeon will decide together after studying the drawbacks, advantages and risks involved in each technique.
The lack of skin after mastectomy is replenished by transporting skin from the woman´s back to her front via a cutaneous tunnel in the armpit. To keep this skin from the back alive, the underlying muscle, which carries the blood vessels and brings nutrients to the skin, is also transported. This muscle is called the "latissimus dorsi" and is the broadest muscle of the back.
Besides the skin attached to muscle, we can also transport all the adipose tissue, or fat, around the muscle, providing us with a large volume of tissue with which to reconstruct the breast. This we refer to as "extended latissimus dorsi." If you do not have enough tissue, a standard implant is placed under the muscle.
The procedure is performed in one operation and usually lasts between four and five hours. It involves the sacrifice of a muscle that is normally dispensable and the scar on the back is positioned at a height where it is easily covered by a bra or swimsuit.
This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and, very occasionally, requires a blood transfusion in surgery or during the period of hospitalization.
The limitations of this technique are aesthetic: the skin on the back is thicker and darker than that of the breast, so that the result is not as natural as other techniques. The difference between the implant and the operated breast is noticeable, both visually and sensually. When the use of breast implants is required there are often limitations.