How Does Breast Reconstruction Help a Post-Mastectomy Patient’s Lifestyle?

How Does Breast Reconstruction Help a Post-Mastectomy Patient’s Lifestyle?

For some women, the choice of having post-mastectomy breast reconstruction is no choice at all. It is no secret to women who have suffered such an ordeal that the effects of breast cancer extend to even after it has been successfully treated. Women are affected both physically and psychologically by mastectomies. Aspects of their social life, self-worth, and overall lifestyles are also invariably changed, and some women even go through stages of chronic depression as a result of these changes. These are the ones that feel like they have no choice but to undergo breast reconstruction to improve the condition of their daily lives. Although there are a multitude of non-invasive ways to deal with post-mastectomy scars and uneven breasts—like creative dressing and faux breasts, these only offer a limited and often inadequate solution for most women. Breast reconstruction seeks to restore the normalcy of these people’s lives by providing a permanent solution to the problem of uneven breasts. By opting for DIEP flap surgery, patients stand a good chance of restoring the look and feel of their missing breast. Most of these surgeries also include nipple and areola reconstruction to complete the overall effect. DIEP flap surgery involves taking skin and fat from the lower abdomen, as well as their connecting blood vessels, and using those to reconstruct the missing breast. Patients typically stay for 4 days in the hospital and spend 4 to 6 weeks of recovery at home. Although there are some precautions regarding doing strenuous activities during this period, most people who undergo this surgery find that they are able to do their daily tasks...

Consequences of Smoking with Breast Reconstruction

During the consultation with their surgeon, people who have undergone a mastectomy and opted for breast reconstruction are given strict advice as preparation for the operation. If they have a history of smoking, they are told to quit at least six weeks prior to the surgery, and six weeks after—during most or all of the recovery period. The nicotine and carbon monoxide from the tobacco in a cigarette causes a lot of damage and health issues for normal people, but for people undergoing surgery, the effects can be particularly devastating. Studies by the UCSD Cancer Center published in 2008 have shown that smoking will increase the rate of surgery complications by up to 60%. This is because nicotine affects the cardiovascular system immensely and prolifically. It can constrict blood vessels resulting in increased blood pressure. The smooth muscle fibers that are present in the walls of the blood vessels constrict in the presence of nicotine, making them narrower and therefore unable to carry as much blood to the tissues—a vital process for healing and recovery, especially during and after surgery. The decrease in blood flow also has a multitude of adverse effects to the tissues affected. Because there is now a lesser amount of essential nutrients, oxygen and growth factors for the tissue to absorb, it will gradually become susceptible to complications. The risk of infection, blood clots, poor healing, or total failure of the reconstruction surgery can occur if the situation is grave. Although there are smoking cessation products that make quitting the habit easier, any of these substitutes with nicotine must also be avoided. It is always...