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Abu Dhabi: A mother-of-three who required a double mastectomy has successfully had her breasts reconstructed in Abu Dhabi through a new technique that guarantees less pain and quicker recovery.

The technique, which involves implanting a biological mesh above the pectoral chest muscle, was performed for the first time at Tawam Hospital, the emirate’s most advanced cancer treatment facility. In a statement, Tawam said the reconstruction was done at the same time as the mastectomy, and led to less pain for the patient.

Risk factor

The young patient had presented with a history of breast cancer and BRCA1 genetic mutation, a marker of hereditary breast cancer risk. A double mastectomy was recommended, and performed by Dr Mouza Al Ameri, consultant surgeon at the hospital.

The mastectomy was immediately followed by breast reconstruction, led by consultant surgeon, Dr Sulaiman Shantour.

“The most frequently performed surgical immediate breast reconstruction procedures in the past were the insertion of an implant under the pectoralis major muscle. However, the new pre-pectoral technique does not require mobilising the pectoralis muscle. Therefore, the pain is less, the result is aesthetically better, and the patients can return back early to their daily activities quicker,” Dr Shantour said.

Smooth recovery

The surgical drain was removed after a few days and post-operative pain was nearly nil. The patient was seen in the clinic few times after the surgery, and the Tawam statement said she very satisfied with the result of the reconstruction, saying that it had reflected positively on her family, daily life and self-confidence.

Rate of incidence

A mastectomy is often recommended when patients have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation, which is associated closely with breast cancer risk. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Abu Dhabi, with the latest incidence reported at about 20 per cent of all female cancers, according to Tawam.

While the rate of incidence is on the rise, treatment has also become more easily available. Increasingly, breast reconstruction is also performed following a mastectomy, allowing patients to regain their physical and emotional balance.

Advances in reconstruction

Based on the patient’s overall condition, reconstruction surgeries that are minimally invasive are recommended, and can be performed immediately after the mastectomy. The latest techniques, such as the one undertaken at Tawam, place implants above the chest pectoral muscle so that the muscle doesn’t have to be cut or stretched, thus allowing for a more painless, quicker recovery.

Other procedures use the patient’s own tissue to reconstruct the breast. This procedure may have to be performed some time after the mastectomy, and may not be possible for all patients.