It is important for a woman to completely understand all of her options when she is considering having a partial mastectomy. Partial lumpectomy and mastectomy are also referred to as “breast conservation surgery” or “breast-sparing surgery” because during the surgery, an attempt is made to save the breast tissue that is healthy.
Stage I or II tumors are usually treated by these kind of procedures. These are tumors that are smaller and in their early stages. Radiation therapy usually accompanies these procedures. Once breast tissue has been removed, there is usually an indentation that remains in the breast. This may not become visible until after the treatment of radiation has been completed. As a way of preventing this, a plastic surgeon can sometimes rotate the remaining breast tissue during the surgery. This will make the indentation less visible.
Women with C or D cup breasts are candidates for this type of technique. These types of procedures are called oncoplastic surgery. They often leave women with scars on their breast or with a smaller breast. If a woman receives one of these procedures, a balancing or symmetry procedure may be required to make sure that the unaffected breast matches the breast that was operated on. Breast tissue also has the tendency to tighten or shrink when exposed to radiation therapy.
Women with smaller breasts sometimes do not have adequate breast tissue for the plastic surgeon to rotate into the indentation caused by the removal of the cancerous breast tissue. In these cases, it is necessary for tissue to be taken from other parts of the body. Generally, this tissue is taken from a woman’s back or from her armpit along the wall of her chest. There will be scarring in both of these locations after the surgery.
Women are sometimes unable to have reconstruction performed during their surgery. In these cases, the delayed reconstructive methods discussed above may be implemented. If radiation makes a woman’s skin tight, the flaps of skin that were used to fill the indentation may cause a patch of skin to form in the area of the breast where the partial mastectomy was originally performed. It is common for a plastic surgeon to consult with a woman’s cancer doctor to ensure that she has been removed from radiation therapy long enough to be able to withstand another surgery. It usually takes six months to one year of healing after radiation therapy for a woman to heal enough to be cleared for surgery. There is a much greater chance of complications during surgeries that are performed after a woman has gone through radiation therapy.
Hayley is a freelance blogger. Find out more about San Diego based cosmetic surgery at sandiegoplasticsurgeryclinic.com.