Women are the backbone of today's society. They are the centre around which the whole family runs. From going through pregnancy, giving birth to children, waking up at odd times to feed the child, tolerating all the pranks of the children, feeding them what they like, teaching them after they come back from school women are really busy in taking care of the family. In addition, they excel in reading, work and are an important earning member of the family. Juggling between work and family is never easy and they do it very well everyday. They are also the stars of today's society hitting the headlines for their accomplishments.
For women, the most common cancer is breast cancer. It accounts for around one-third of
all the cancers (Fig 1). The incidence of breast cancer is increasing day by day which
is shown in Figure 2 where the incidence of breast cancer is increasing in all the
cities in India. Due to the changing lifestyle, it now affects younger people than
before. 25 years back, breast cancer was affecting women predominantly above 50 years.
Now, there is a significant amount of women who get breast cancer in their 30s and 40s
which is the age where they are building up their careers and looking to have a good
social life. As part of the treatment, a lot of women have their breasts removed. With
advances in medicine, the average 10-year survival rate of breast cancer is around 83%
depending upon the stage of presentation. Many women beat the disease and want to forget
it. But each time they see the mirror they get reminded of it. They are not able to wear
clothes of their choice. They get noticed when they go for public functions and women
are very conscious of this throughout their lives.
This can be a thing of the past. While removing the breast cancer, the breasts can be reconstructed in the same operation to remove the breast (Mastectomy) or even later. We prefer to reconstruct breasts in the same operation as the mastectomy due to the following reasons
The drawback of doing the reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy is that it may take an additional 2 hours for surgery. With modern good anaesthesia techniques and experienced anesthesiologists, immediate breast reconstruction at the same time of the mastectomy is the standard of care worldwide.
Some women might have had their breast removed and not reconstructed either due to
ignorance or personal preference. They might have had their radiotherapy as well. Breast
reconstruction can be done for these women as well. By using autologous reconstruction
with the patient’s own tissue, it not only gives them the aesthetic breast but also give
them additional skin from the abdomen which replaces the skin on the chest which was
affected with radiotherapy.
There are several ways to do breast reconstruction. The surgeon would have to decide according to each woman based on the need for radiotherapy, comorbidities of the patient, previous surgeries underwent by the patient, availability of tissue in the patient and the patient’s own expectations. It is also important that the surgeon chooses a method with the least complications as this will delay radiotherapy and chemotherapy for breast cancers. Accordingly, breast reconstruction can be broadly divided into
In this method, the patient’s own tissues are taken along with its blood supply and connected to the blood vessels in the chest or in the armpit to make a new breast. Depending on where the patient has enough tissue we choose that area for our reconstruction. The tissues can be taken from
Once the breasts have been reconstructed the patient finishes the rest of the treatment
like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. If the patient desires nipple reconstruction can be
done under local anaesthesia as a day case. Medical tattooing is done to recreate the
Breast reconstruction definitely makes women feel better compared to those women without reconstruction as they can get into clothes of their choice, socialise with people better, don’t get noticed when they go out, don’t get repeatedly asked about it and face the world with much more confidence.