Reconstructive surgery is challenging and demanding. The objective is to restore the normal form and function of the body part in question. Plastic surgery provides plenty of tools for this.
Free skin transplants are routinely used almost on a daily basis. Local flaps or free flaps (tissue transplants) provide better aesthetic results, and therefore using them for reconstruction purposes is preferred. When tissue transplantation is used, the donor site must also be repaired. The best results can be achieved through careful individual planning. Therefore surgery is always preceded by a consultation visit to the clinic.
The most common reconstructive surgical procedures include the correction of abnormalities on the face and body that are caused by trauma, congenital defects and cancer surgery.
Microvascular free tissue transfer facilitates the correction of extensive tissue damage and the correction of tissue deficiency resulting from major trauma. In addition, it even facilitates radical surgery of difficult cancers. In this technique, the tissue to be transferred is disconnected from the body’s blood supply and reconnected to the blood vessels at the recipient site. Reconnecting nerves in order to restore sensation to the transplanted tissue (e.g. in microneurovascular MS-TRAM breast reconstruction) represents a state-of-the-art technique in plastic surgery.
Plastic surgeons are also trained in replantation surgery (reattachment of limbs); however, in Finland this is primarily a special field of hand surgeons.
Reconstructive surgery after breast cancer
A breast can be reconstructed after the patient has fully recovered from cancer treatment. This usually takes 1-2 years. For patients with high-risk cancer, it is recommended to allow three years for recovery.
There are various methods of breast reconstruction. The choice of the method depends on the patient’s state of health, general condition and age as well as on her own wishes and on the extent of any previous surgical procedures in her abdominal area.
Breast reconstruction using the patient’s own tissue (autografts) gives the best result. Implants, tissue expanders and fat transfer are also highly-developed techniques and offer a feasible option for slim patients who have little tissue of their own to be used for transplantation.