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Breast cancer patients seeking breast reconstruction have a long road ahead of them, especially if they have undergone radiation as part of their treatment. Radiation therapy applied before reconstruction can damage healthy breast tissue, making reconstruction more complex and delicate. Studies suggest that radiation given after reconstruction can increase the risk of certain complications and deformities, such as fat necrosis, capsular contracture, volume loss, and skin tightening. In either case, Dr. Tanna can design a personalized and effective treatment plan to reconstruct the breast and improve feel and appearance.

What are the effects of radiation on breast reconstruction?

Radiation is among the most powerful and effective ways to remove breast cancer, especially in those undergoing lumpectomy. It may also be useful in treating patients in whom the disease has spread to the lymph nodes.

Unfortunately, there are some common side effects from using radiation that include damage to the healthy tissue, increased risks of complications and infection, and poor wound healing during reconstructive surgery.

Potential complications of radiation after reconstruction with implants may include:

  • Implant malposition
  • Tightness around the implant capsule (capsular contracture) 
  • Tenderness and pain
  • Implant extrusion
  • Infection
  • Seroma (fluid build-up)
  • Skin tightening 

How can autologous tissue flaps help?

For women who have undergone radiation as part of their breast cancer treatment, using tissue flaps during breast reconstruction can help reduce some of the risks associated with implant surgery. The timing for your reconstruction will be discussed with your oncologist.

Tanna Breast Flap

Dr. Tanna can also address radiation damage in several different ways.  Fat transfer can be performed in several stages after lumpectomy or mastectomy to create natural-looking contours. Another approach is to place a tissue expander into the breast pocket at the time of mastectomy (when postmastectomy radiation is anticipated) and then perform autologous tissue flap reconstruction following completion of radiation therapy.  Finally, for women with a history of radiation therapy in the setting of implant reconstruction, removal of implants and replacement with flap reconstruction can be considered.  This is a common approach for women with radiation damage, especially those with capsular contracture, pain, or implant malposition.

What are the benefits of treatment?

  • Improved breast appearance 
  • Correction of implant-related complications
  • Reconstruction using autologous tissue flaps
  • Personalized solution
  • Safe, effective treatment
  • Enhanced confidence and peace of mind
  • Improved quality of life

Who is a good candidate for treatment?

If you are concerned about radiation-related damage to the breast tissue and want to undergo breast reconstruction using tissue flaps, schedule a private consultation today with Dr. Tanna in New York. He can create a customized treatment plan for you that meets your needs and provides a beautiful outcome. Patients who require revision surgery after implant placement or those who need implant removal can find relief by visiting Dr. Tanna as well.

Why choose Dr. Tanna in NYC?

As a sought-after, double board-certified plastic surgeon with longstanding experience in the arena of breast reconstruction after cancer, Dr. Tanna has established a reputation for excellence in everything that he does. He is rigorously trained in microvascular techniques and can perform tissue flap surgery to mitigate the effects of radiation, providing beautiful, elegant results.

Dr. Tanna obtained his medical degree from Albany Medical College, going on to complete a demanding plastic surgery residency at UCLA. He also pursued a prestigious Microsurgery Fellowship at NYU in NYC. Dr. Tanna serves as a Professor of Surgery at Hofstra University School of Medicine.

Dr. Neil Tanna, top breast reconstruction surgeon
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