Reconstruction after breast and other cancers

15 October 2012

Reconstructive surgery can often bring confidence and in some cases, day-to-day normality, back to those recovering from cancer. But it’s natural to have questions about such procedures, which is why our live chat focussed on addressing your queries on reconstruction after breast and other cancers.

We were joined by Mr Ash Mosahebi, consultant Plastic & reconstructive surgeon from Spire Bushey – who specialises in cancer reconstruction and cosmetic surgery, and does an average of 150-200 breast reconstruction surgeries each year.

Here’s how he answered your questions:

Jane asked:Hello, could you tell me the different types of breast reconstruction and what each of them involves?

Ash Mosahebi:Hi Jane it is a complex answer but broadly speaking ranges from implant based to using your tissue like tummy tissue

Jane asked:Thank you, is there one type that is more common than others?

Ash Mosahebi:As a plastic surgeon I tend to do more tummy option (DIEP) as most people are keen to have a tummy tuck as well as breast recon

Fionad asked:Hi there - someone I know went through a breast reconstruction and it led to infection which made her very poorly. What can be done to reduce the risks of this?

Ash Mosahebi:Infection is a risk in any surgery. Nothing can make it a zero risk but normally antibiotics can reduce the risk as well as a clean hospital environment

A question from a blog reader:How soon after surgery can reconstruction be done, in relation to breast cancer?

Ash Mosahebi:It very much depends on type of the cancer sometimes could be done immediately

AXA PPP healthcare:Ash, what would you say is the most typical case/most common treatment that you see?

Ash Mosahebi:For breast reconstruction is normally after mastectomy, for skin usually BCC or SCC or Melanoma

AXA PPP healthcare:Apart from cancer related, are there any other types of reconstruction surgery you carry out?

Ash Mosahebi:Yes after accidents & congenital problems & also cosmetic surgery gone wrong form other surgeons

Kate asked:Hi there, is breast reconstruction available on the NHS?

Ash Mosahebi:Yes. I do them on NHS at Royal Free hospital in London

A question from a blogger:Is there anything new that has come from research to benefit this type of treatment to also further reduce scarring where unavoidable?

Ash Mosahebi:Yes more 7 more coming from the use of fat cells & particularly fat stem cells that we are pioneering at our unit

Kate asked:Is there a chance that a breast implant could hide a new cancer? Is it more difficult to pick up after reconstructive surgery?

Ash Mosahebi:Hi Kate if it is total mastectomy implants are unlikely to hide anything

Kate asked:Thanks Ash, so after reconstructive surgery is it necessary to go for regular mammograms?

Ash Mosahebi:Hi Kate yes you should & be guided by your surgeon

Kate asked:Thanks Ash, so how long do you recommend to wait until you can wear normal bras?

Ash Mosahebi:Hi Kate normally 6 weeks

Hannah asked:Hi there, is there any chance after breast reconstruction surgery that any normal feeling would return to it? if so how long on average could this take?

Ash Mosahebi:Hi Hannah, it will never be normal but some feeling will gradually come back

Hannah asked:Thanks Ash, how about any scarring that has been left, will this eventually fade?

Ash Mosahebi:Hannah, scarring will improve in time normally 6-12 months but will never totally disappear

AXA PPP healthcare:Ash, following on from Kate's question earlier. If after having the implant the cancer was to come back, is there a general procedure of what happens next?

Ash Mosahebi:Then depending on previous treatment may need radiotherapy or surgery or both

AXA PPP healthcare:Ash, how many reconstructive surgeries would you undertake on average each year?

Ash Mosahebi:On average 150-200

AXA PPP healthcare:How many of those are for reconstructive breast surgery?

Ash Mosahebi:These ARE the breast reconstructive cases, so total reconstructive cases would be around 1000!

Nemo asked:How long does a DIEP reconstruction normally take to perform?

Ash Mosahebi:6 hours

Grabaneda11 asked:Hi, I'm from Spain and I would like to know if there are any difference between countries in cancer disease. Are there more cases in the UK?

Ash Mosahebi:Hi cancer types & cases are broadly similar in Europe & US