What is Breast Reconstruction Surgery?
It’s estimated that more that one million reconstructive procedures are performed by plastic surgeons every year. Reconstructive surgery helps patients of all ages and types – whether it’s a child with a birth defect, a young adult injured in an accident, or an older adult with a problem caused by aging.
The goals of reconstructive surgery differ from those of cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive surgery is performed on abnormal structures of the body, caused by birth defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma or injury, infection, tumors, or disease. It is generally performed to improve function, but may also be done to approximate a normal appearance.
Cosmetic surgery is performed to reshape normal structures of the body to improve the patient’s appearance and self-esteem.
Although no amount of surgery can achieve “perfection,” modern treatment options allow plastic surgeons to achieve improvements in form and function thought to be impossible 10 years ago.
This will give you a basic understanding of some commonly-used techniques in reconstructive surgery. It won’t answer all of your questions, since each problem is unique and a great deal depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Also, ask for information that specifically details the procedure you are considering for yourself or your child.
Who is a Reconstructive Surgery Candidate?
There are two basic categories of patients: those who have congenital deformities, otherwise known as birth defects, and those with developmental deformities, acquired as a result of accident, infection, disease, or in some cases, aging.
Some common examples of congenital abnormalities are birthmarks; cleft-lip and palate deformities; hand deformities such as syndactyly (webbed fingers), or extra or absent fingers; and abnormal breast development.
Burn wounds, lacerations, growths, and aging problems are considered acquired deformities. In some cases, patients may find that a procedure commonly thought to be aesthetic in nature may be performed to achieve a reconstructive goal. For example, some older adults with redundant or drooping eyelid skin blocking their field of vision might have eyelid surgery. Or an adult whose face has an asymmetrical look because of paralysis might have a balancing facelift. Although appearance is enhanced, the main goal of the surgery is to restore function.
Everyone heals at a different rate-and we cannot pinpoint an exact “back-to-normal” date following surgery. We can, however, give you a general idea of when you can expect to notice improvement.