Women suffering from breast cancer who have undergone a mastectomy (breast and tumour removal) can opt for breast reconstructive surgery that can prevent any psychological damage to their self esteem, said a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.

Dr Dora Evangelidou from Cosme Surge, Emirates Hospital said: “Unfortunately, mastectomy is considered by most women a taboo subject as they view this as disfiguring or a loss of femininity. This is why October is not just about the colour ‘pink’. It is so people can be reminded that they can do much more beforehand. Women that are diagnosed must be informed about their reconstructive options in advance of the mastectomy surgical session,” said Dr Evangelidou

In the ideal scenario, the breast surgeon should arrange for a consultation with a plastic surgeon that has breast reconstruction experience and qualifications. Before the mastectomy, the patient is informed and educated about their breast reconstruction options.

Dr Evangelidou added: “There are many types of breast reconstructive surgeries and some methods are less invasive than others, depending on each patient. Every reconstruction is tailor-made to fit the patients’ needs and expectations. We have done many types of immediate breast reconstructions during the mastectomy, and this is easiest way for a patient to initiate their post-cancer period.”

Going into details, Dr Evangelidou said that the most common type was implant reconstruction and this was used in more than 65 per cent of the reconstructive procedures. Autologous (or “flap”) reconstruction, which uses tissue transplanted from another part of your body (such as your belly, thigh, or back), is another less common option. There are also reconstructions that combine both methods.

The reconstructive surgery is carried out simultaneously as the patient undergoes mastectomy so that she does not wake up to the horror of amputation. Evangelidou added: “It is much easier to reconstruct the breast at the same time as the mastectomy rather than years later. I will always design the cuts for the breast surgeon to proceed and remove the breast and immediately after that a new breast will be reconstructed during the same surgery.”

There are situations where prophylactic mastectomy is recommended (removing the breast that does not have a tumour). “Some women are diagnosed with extremely aggressive cancer, multifocal cancer or have a family history of breast cancer and these women would be good candidates for prophylactic mastectomy If women learn about their reconstructive options, they can not only survive this disease but thrive afterward, “ added Dr Evangelidou.