Breast reconstruction after mastectomy is a very common procedure.
A woman’s breasts help define her femininity. Breast reconstruction can restore this after breast cancer surgery. Everybody undergoing breast cancer surgery qualifies for breast reconstruction as it is part of your cancer treatment and is covered by your medical aid. This can either be done immediately or after you have completed your cancer treatment. A breast reconstruction does not interfere with the treatment of your breast cancer. Consulting a plastic surgeon before undergoing breast cancer surgery will improve your chances of a successful reconstruction. There are basically three different methods to reconstruct the breast, which can be used separately or in combination:
• Breast conservation surgery or oncoplastic surgery: First the oncology surgeon removes the cancerous portion of the breast. This defect is then reconstructed using the remaining breast tissue. Simultaneous surgery to the opposite breast is usually needed to match the size of the breasts. A person with larger breasts and well-localized cancer is usually suitable for oncoplastic surgery. Radiation follows this kind of treatment. Radiation is needed after this method of treatment
• Using a tissue expander and breast implants: Tissue expanders are inserted under the chest muscle either immediately or in a delayed fashion (once the mastectomy scar has healed). The plastic surgeon injects saline solution into the expander to create a new breast. This takes a couple of months until the expander reaches the desired size. The expander is then replaced with a more permanent implant. This whole process usually involves 3 relatively simple operations that occur over a period of about 6 months. The operation also includes reconstruction of the areola and the nipple.
• Tissue flaps: Using the person's tissues (fat or muscle and skin) from other parts of the body such as the buttocks, back, abdomen, and thighs. The results for this type of reconstruction are more natural looking and longer lasting but it is a more complex and difficult procedure to perform. The reconstruction of the nipple and areola is done in a small, separate operation.
Children can be born with abnormalities involving the face and skull. These can either be incidental, or be part of some genetic trait. These conditions are very distressing and debilitating for patients and parents. It is therefore important that these conditions be accurately diagnosed and repaired. A plastic surgeon co-ordinates this process since it usually involves multiple specialities. Dr Van der Walt was fortunate to train at Tygerberg Hospital, under Professor Zeeman and Graewe, which runs the only internationally recognised craniofacial unit in South Africa.
He is actively involved with cleft surgery in the Eastern Cape.
The Smile Foundation and Cleft Friends support Dr Van der Walt.
Cancer is a devastating disease. Multiple treatment modalities are available to treat cancer e.g. surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Plastic surgeons not only play a pivotal roll in planning and removing the cancerous growth, but also in reconstructing the defects left after surgical removal. This is especially true for breast, head & neck and soft or bony tumours.
Skin cancer is very common especially in countries like South Africa. Sun protection and regular skin surveillance is mandatory. All suspicious lesions should be accurately diagnosed, biopsied or removed by a plastic surgeon.
Oculoplastic surgery involves surgery of the eyelids and surrounding area. The eyelids are essential in protecting your eyes. This is a very delicate area and requires a high degree of expertise and precision to ensure the optimal outcome.
Dr JC van der Walt Inc.
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
1 How Avenue
St George's Hospital
Reg. No. 015/218777/21
VAT. No. 4550270468
PO Box 20058
Tel: + 27 (0) 41 373-2261
Fax: + 27 (0) 41 373-2267
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