26 February 2020
Spire Harpenden patient, Sara Liyanage, tells of her breast cancer journey in book release 'Ticking Off Breast Cancer'.
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Reconstructive surgery of this type is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures in the UK. It’s an important turning point for women who’ve suffered from breast cancer and can help signal a return to confidence and normality in their lives.
Breast reconstruction surgery aims to replace the body tissue you’ve lost so that you can regain as much of your original appearance as possible. It can be done using silicone implants or some of your own tissue, taken from another part of your body.
If you’ve had a mastectomy as part of treatment for breast cancer treatment, we can help. We understand how hard cancer is on both your body and mental health – and right now all you probably want is to get back to some kind of normal life.
If you’ve been diagnosed as having breast cancer you’ll probably already have had some medical treatment before you reach us.
You might also be considering this treatment if you have a family history of breast cancer and you want to take preventative steps.
Many women come to us either because they’ve got private medical insurance or they are paying for themselves to guarantee prompt, personalised treatment in a modern and immaculate hospital.
You may be referred to one of our respected surgeons via your own GP. We can also make sure you see one of our specialist consultants within a few days of your referral to us.
We pride ourselves on our clinical excellence, you'll be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.
Our patients are at the heart of what we do and we want you to be in control of your care. To us, that means you can choose the consultant you want to see, and when you want. They'll be with you every step of the way.
All of our consultants are of the highest calibre and benefit from working in our modern, well-equipped hospitals.
Our consultants have high standards to meet, often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries. Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.
You will have a formal consultation with a consultant. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
Your consultant will examine your breasts, look at their shape and size and the position of your nipples. He or she will then discuss the best surgical options with you. Sometimes this treatment may be completed in several stages, depending on how much reconstruction is needed and the techniques used.
Your doctor will let you know if they feel any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. They will also explain the potential benefits and risks of having a breast reconstruction and will discuss any alternatives to the procedure or whether you should be booked straight in for a procedure. Your surgeon will also give you advice about the size and type of bra you will need to take to hospital for after the operation. They will be there to listen and help you every step of the way.
You can book an initial appointment at the hospital most convenient for you.
We've tried to make your experience with us as easy and relaxed as possible.
For more information on visiting hours, our food, what to pack if you're staying with us, parking and all those other important practicalities, please visit our patient information pages.
Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having surgery can be a time of worry and anxiety. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, holding your hand, every step of the way.
There are two main types of breast reconstruction: one uses an artificial implant, while the other uses tissue from your buttocks, thighs or abdomen to create a natural implant. If some of your skin was saved when your breast was removed you may also be able to use this as part of an implant.
There are several techniques available to do either type of procedure and your surgeon may use a combination of methods to get the best results for you.
There are three main approaches:
• A silicone implant can be placed either directly under the skin or behind the muscle where the breast lies. This may be the best option if your skin and nipple were preserved during the mastectomy.
• An area of skin, fat and muscle from abdomen, back or buttocks is repositioned, while keeping its connection with nerves and blood supply intact.
• An area of tissue may be removed completely from your abdomen, back or buttocks and transplanted to your chest. A new blood supply can then be created by connecting blood vessels from the old with those in the new location.
Your surgeon’s approach will depend on a number of factors, including the nature of your mastectomy, breast shape and body type. Depending on which techniques are used the procedure will take between one and three hours.
After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision.
After this, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.
You will probably need to stay in hospital for three or four nights but your friends and family will be able to visit pretty much anytime you want – we have flexible visiting hours.
While you are in hospital a physiotherapist will help you with exercises that will speed up your recovery.
You will be sore after the operation and you will probably have some temporary swelling and bruising.
We will provide you with a supply of all the medicines your consultant feels you need to take home with you after you've left hospital, up to 14 days. This may be at an additional cost to some patients.
You will be advised on the steps you should take to speed up your recovery before you leave the hospital and you will probably be given some exercises to do every day. Follow your surgeon’s advice about strenuous exercise, lifting and driving.
You should arrange to take a couple of weeks off work. The time it takes to fully recover will depend on the type of surgery you had but you should be able to get back to light physical activities within two or three weeks.
It may take several months for your new breasts to settle into shape and you will be left with some scars, which the surgeon will do their best to conceal. For most women, the benefits of breast reconstruction far outweigh any negatives associated with having surgery.
Once you’re ready to be discharged, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home because you won’t be able to drive. You should also ask them to help with shopping and cleaning for a few weeks.
We’re with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital.
After your operation we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, physiotherapy exercises, advice on what you should and shouldn't do, and any other follow-up support you need. We'll arrange a follow-up appointment before you leave hospital.
On rare occasions, complications following surgery can occur. The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. Your consultant will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, we’re ready to help.
We are committed to delivering excellent individual care and customer service across our network of hospitals, clinics and specialist care centres around the UK. Our dedicated and highly trained team aim to achieve consistently excellent results. For us it's more than just treating patients, it's about looking after people.
The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
26 February 2020
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