Breast Reconstruction After Radiation

By: Brandy (Korman) Haslam

Blogs
November 25, 2013

Traditionally general surgeons and oncologists have advocated waiting 6 months or more to have breast reconstruction after radiation treatment. I’m sure that those of you have needed radiation in the past have been told this, and even now, some surgeons and oncologists are still recommending waiting this long.

So it may come as a surprise that in some cases, reconstruction can be delayed by only 4-8 weeks.

To get the scoop, I chatted with one of our surgeons, Dr. Steven Pisano who had this to say:

“We’ve found that performing flap reconstruction sooner rather than later is actually better for some patients. Doing reconstruction sooner can improve the environment of the chest wall by allowing for increased blood flow, in turn creating a healthier breast long-term.

With radiation, the patient’s skin and soft tissues are ultimately damaged. The longer the patient waits to have reconstruction, the longer the effects of radiation have to settle in and wreak havoc on the skin, tissue and surrounding areas.

Performing a flap procedure like the DIEP, TUG, GAP or Latissimus flap allows us to remove that radiated skin and tissue and replace it with healthy skin and tissue from another part of the body.”

Implant procedures, however, are not usually the first choice for patients undergoing radiation treatment. If you’re a patient potentially needing radiation treatment, Dr. Pisano strongly recommends a flap procedure if you are a candidate for one.

"We avoid implant reconstructions in the setting of radiation, due to the increased potential for short and long-term problems such as infection, wound healing problems, implant exposure, capsular contracture and poor aesthetic outcomes."

Learn More About DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

7 Comments

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  • PRMA

    I had radiation after stage 3b BC & had Latissimus Dorsi with implants breast reconstruction & it turned out great & I’ve been very Lucky with NO problems. My surgeon here in Kentucky was great!!

    Reply
  • PRMA

    i had my left breast removed march 2nd 2012 i went thru the chemo and then 33 radiation treatments once treatments was done i had the first of 3 surgeries first was the tissue expander which was doing good but i set up and infection not from that had to have it removed waited a few months to heal from that then had the reconstruction started with the implant that to didn’t work just last week my plastic surgeon did the flap surgery where he took the muscle and skin from my back i have had very little pain and so far its doing good i still have stitches but its just been a week but so far so good

    Reply
  • PRMA

    Hi Lesa, glad you are doing well now after the LAT flap. Unfortunately the complication rate with implants after radiation is significantly higher than with flap reconstructions. Wishing you all the best! -Brandy

    Reply
  • PRMA

    I finished 6 months of chemo a few weeks ago & I am to begin 25 fractions of radiation therapy tomorrow & have been told multiple times by the radiation oncologist that I would not be cleared for reconstruction for 6 months. The rationale being, that all the tissue needed to heal properly. During my consultation with PRMA, I was told I shouldn’t have to wait that long. Obviously, I would prefer sooner rather than later but also want the best outcome as well. Sincerely conflicted!!

    Reply
  • PRMA

    Hi Jess, PRMA surgeons are recommending waiting only a period of 4-8 weeks, but keep in mind all patients are different. The reason they are recommending a shorter time period is because they found that removing the damaged, radiated tissue sooner produces better outcomes. Hope this helps! -Brandy

    Reply
  • PRMA

    My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and the oncologists suggested her radiotherapy. Due to which her breast tissues were destroyed. After that she underwent Mastectomy. Mastectomy is surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast. Immediately after the mastectomy surgery, her reconstruction surgery was held. Now she is happy with the results. She thanks the oncologists at http://www.advancedradiationcenters.com/ for radiation as well the doctors at PRMA for reconstruction.

    Reply
  • PRMA

    Love hearing your sweet aunt is doing well and is happy with her results! We are so honored to have served your wonderful family!

    Reply
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