Oncoplastic breast surgery combines the techniques of traditional breast cancer surgery with the cosmetic advantages of plastic surgery. The goal is to remove cancer while minimizing the unwanted effects of surgery, helping patients heal both physically and emotionally.
How Oncoplastic Surgery Works
Oncoplastic surgery is most commonly performed in association with a lumpectomy. To begin, the surgeon will remove the tumor, a small amount of surrounding tissue, and possibly some of the nearby lymph nodes. Then the plastic surgeon will perform a bilateral breast reduction or lift to make the two breasts symmetrical.
The breast cancer surgery operation and plastic surgery operation are performed one after the other. Doing this has several benefits:
- Requires only one surgical session
- Allows a greater amount of tissue to be removed, which can be helpful for larger tumors
- Makes it easier to produce symmetrical breasts
- Performed before radiation therapy, which helps patients avoid potential complications of exposing surgical wounds to radiation
There are many different oncoplastic techniques depending on the cancer’s characteristics, the patient’s health and body, and their desired outcome. Some of the most common include:
Local Advancement Flap
With a traditional lumpectomy, a tumor and a small portion of the surrounding tissue is removed. However, depending on the size and location of the tumor, this can deform the breast.
Instead, a local advancement flap allows surgeons to take the tissue that remains after a tumor has been removed and use it to reconstruct the original appearance of the breast. This leaves no additional indentations or defects.
Bilateral Breast Reduction
When a lumpectomy is performed on only one breast, it can reduce its size and alter its shape. A bilateral breast reduction solves this problem by altering the size and shape of the other breast as well.
This technique has several benefits. By operating on the other breast, a larger amount of tissue is removed. This can be helpful if the tumor is large and additional tissue is required. Modifying the other breast will also help make both breasts more symmetrical.
Bilateral Breast Lift (Mastopexy)
A bilateral breast lift, or mastopexy, is a more minimal form of bilateral breast reduction. This is a good option for women who don’t want to significantly reduce the original shape of their breasts.
Rather than removing a large amount of tissue from both breasts, the only tissue that’s removed is from the original excision (as well as a comparable amount on the other breast). This can be accompanied by additional aesthetic procedures, such as a nipple relocation, to help the breasts become more symmetrical.
For patients with advanced stage breast cancer, a mastectomy may be necessary. If this is the case, a skin-sparing mastectomy can help the patient conserve the look of the breast.
In this procedure, the skin of the breast, including the nipple and areola, are removed. Then the breast tissue is taken out through the same incision. Afterward, the surgeon will reconstruct the breast using the removed skin, nipple, and areola. Doing so allows them to preserve the original shape and appearance of the breast.
Who Is Eligible for Oncoplastic Surgery?
The variety of oncoplastic techniques mean that they can be used with a range of breast types. However, patients interested in oncoplastic surgery to reduce the size of their breasts will likely require breasts large enough to accommodate these techniques. Women with small breasts or those who have had multiple lumpectomies may not be eligible for oncoplastic surgery.
If you are interested in exploring oncoplastic and nipple-sparing surgical options, we’re here for you. Call us now at (212) 305-9676 or fill out our online appointment request form.
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