Inflammatory Breast Cancer and Breast Reconstruction

By: Courtney Floyd

Blogs
October 15, 2015

Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a rare and aggressive disease where cancer cells block lymph vessels in the skin of the breast, often causing the breast to appear red and swollen - it is often confused with an infection because of this. IBC accounts for about 5% of all breast cancers diagnosed and often develops quickly.

Since IBC is so aggressive, treatment should begin as soon as possible and typically includes chemotherapy, mastectomy, and radiation. Immediate breast reconstruction is not recommended. It is crucial to ensure all the affected tissue has been removed and then disease has been treated completely prior to starting the reconstructive process.

Once treatment is completed, breast reconstruction can be considered. In some cases, a true "breast" reconstruction is not possible due to the extent of the IBC and the amount of tissue removed to treat the disease.

For patients interested in reconstruction following radiation therapy, we recommend tissue ("flap") procedures such as the DIEP, TUG, or GAP. These options allow the surgeon to remove any damaged radiated tissue and replace it with healthy skin and tissue from another area of the body.

We do not recommend implant-based reconstruction for IBC patients who have had radiation treatment due to the increase risk of complications such as infection, wound healing, capsular contracture, pain, implant exposure, unsatisfactory aesthetic results, and failure of the reconstruction.

Have questions about IBC and breast reconstruction? Please let us know in the comments below. 

Learn More About Your Breast Reconstruction Options

8 Comments

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  • Patrice

    I’m 42 with IBC and my plastic surgeon told me I was too young for a DIEP. He is planning on expanders with silicon implants. It there any printed material I can show him that contradicts his recommendation?

    Reply
  • PRMA Plastic Surgery

    Hey Patrice! There is no age limits for the DIEP flap. I would recommend seeking a second opinion before scheduling surgery if the DIEP flap is something you are interested in. You are more than welcome to fill out our virtual consultation form at http://prma-enhance.com/patient-forms/virtual-consultation and one of our surgeons would be happy to evaluate and provide you with their input.

    Reply
  • Adrienne

    I had my DIEP reconstruction done at age 35. He might not be comfortable with the DIEP surgery. If that is the case, find a surgeon with DIEP flap experience. I don’t understand how someone could be too young for the surgery.

    Reply
  • Cheryle

    Why do you feel you need validation? It is your body and his job to prove to you what is safe.

    Reply
  • Cheryle

    I don’t know or understand why there is not enough known (even by the medical field) why this is not more understood, known, spoke of, however you wish to say it. It is not very well diagnosed, patients are not informed very much, if at all about it, and this goes for men as well. I can live without breast. It’s a bit hard with “Mets”!

    Reply
  • PRMA Plastic Surgery

    I agree Cheryle! More education is definitely needed! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Vicki

    Thank you for this article about breast reconstruction. It makes me understand why my reconstruction failed 5 years ago. I had been diagnosed with aaggressive right breast cancer in July 2008. I had 20 weeks of research chemo shrinking a 8 centimeter tumor to almost none existent. I had double mastectomy with 16 lymph nodes remived. February 2009. I also had 34 rounds radiation finishing July 2009. I waited till starting June 2011 to start reconstruction with the flap and implants. The procedure failed implants removed in October 2011 after a severe infection. Decided not to try again and happy to still be cancer free and living each day to the fullest.

    Reply
  • PRMA Plastic Surgery

    Thank you for sharing Vicki and I am so glad you found this article helpful! Wishing you all the best!

    Reply
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