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Dr. Terry Myckatyn at West County Plastic Surgeons of Jefferson County recently read an essay that cited an early-2017 study examining reconstruction in irradiated breasts. As a plastic surgeon who often performs breast reconstruction in St. Louis, he noted the study results with interest:
In almost one third of the cases examined by the study’s authors, women who underwent a mastectomy, then radiation therapy, then breast reconstruction with implants ultimately saw their reconstruction fail. This is compared to just 4.3 of the patients who experienced reconstruction failure without implants.
While breast implants are a common and popular choice for women who choose to rebuild one or both breasts after a mastectomy, the recent study indicates that the failure rates in these cases are 11 times higher than in women whose breasts are rebuilt out of their own tissue.
The study involved researching breast cancer patients who fit the criteria, and whose surgeries took place between 2009 and 2012. All told, it involved 4,781 cases. A full 80 percent of them chose reconstruction with implants.
Implants represent a viable option for many women—especially those who do not have enough tissue to rebuild one or both breast mounds and those who are otherwise not considered to be suitable candidates for a flap procedure. There are many types of flap surgeries available, which make use of tissue harvested from the patient’s own abdomen or thigh. This tissue is shaped into new breasts, which may have enough volume on their own or may be augmented by implants.
In light of the study, Dr. Myckatyn and the rest of the West County Plastic Surgeons team encourage any women facing the prospect of mastectomy and radiation therapy to also speak with a plastic surgeon about their reconstruction options. Decisions made now can impact what may be best later in terms of cosmetic considerations. Health always comes first, but there is no reason a conversation about possible aesthetic solutions can’t also start as soon as possible.
Contact West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University to discuss breast implants, autologous tissue transfer, and breast reconstruction in St. Louis. Call (314) 996-8800 or send a message online.