CSN Login
Members Online: 16

Radiated skin and future cosmetic surgery.

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi, I had lumpectomy, chemo and radiation in 06. Recently I have felt that I would like to have a breast lift. At my consultation, the surgeon said that radiated skin has a compromised blood supply and it relies on the skin around it. He said that because of this, there is a risk that the skin will die as a result of the surgery. He also said that my port incision could cause complications on the other side. I am very disappointed. He did say though that radiated skin sometimes recovers somewhat after 10 yrs or so and that a lift might be possible at that time. That's forever away!! I'm just wondering if any of you have heard this before. Thanks.

StarWish624
Posts: 7
Joined: Feb 2008

I am surprised at how much actual information you were given. I have heard so many others say that Doctor's don't want to really explain why they try to dissuade us from reconstruction after radiation treatments. I got such a wishy-washy "response" from a Doctor, that I had to get a second opinion (and almost an argument) to get a straight answer. AND they tried to make me feel stupid for asking for the second opinion in the first place (like I was wasting the Doctor's time with such foolish questions).
If it is sooooooo complicated to do reconstruction after-the-fact (rads.), then WHY don't they just do ALL reconstructions BEFORE (when the skin is OK)?
P. S. I am awaiting my reconstruction, too, from 2007. You are NOT alone.

meena1's picture
meena1
Posts: 1005
Joined: Oct 2008

I have also been told the same thing. I had an expander put in when i had my masectomy last year. From what i have been told, radiated skin does not hold the implant in very well. There are 2 sugeries that are used for radiated skin. One is the Tram flap where they take skin from you stomach and the other is a diem flap where they take muscle from your back to hold the implant. They are both Major surgerys with a long recovery period. Radiation damages the skin and tissue so reconstruction is tricky. I live in Philadelphia Pa, and i know a very good plastic surgeon.

cats_toy's picture
cats_toy
Posts: 1463
Joined: Feb 2009

Yes I had a partial mastectomy, chemo and radiation. When I finally decided to get reconstruction, the plastic surgeons all recommended cutting away the radiated skin because of bad blood supply. I had the "free flap" surgery, where they actually remove the skin from the tummy and attach it the breast to help form a "natural" looking breast, then had an implant in the other to try making them both look fairly the same. The radiated skin that was left behind had issues with healing, but eventually closed up. I know this is a completely personal decision, and even though I have had issues throughout, I am not sorry I had it done.
Hope this helps a bit, and if I can answer any other questions, let me know!
Cat

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Hi Cat, so the radiated skin did not die, just took longer to heal? What did they do to help the situation?

cats_toy's picture
cats_toy
Posts: 1463
Joined: Feb 2009

I actually went to three different plastic surgeons before deciding what to do. They all had different ideas, one even told me that I should just get a mastectomy so I wont have to worry about mammograms again...go figure.
The skin did not heal on its own, I went in again and they did a revision, that time it did stay closed. There are always issues with surgery, but it sounds as if you really want this done, so I would get even more information from other docs before giving up.
Stay positive
Cat

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

At first I didn't understand, because the incision would be below the nipple and my lumpectomy is well above the nipple. But the surgeon said that he would have to separate the skin from the breast tissue in order to reposition the breast in a higher position. This separation would prevent the radiated skin from relying on nearby skin for blood as it has been doing since the radiation. This is all new to me. So now I cannot have my boob lift. Just another way that cancer has screwed me over. Pardon my bluntness. I'm just very disappointed is all. My breasts are uneven, and scarred, I just thought that with a lift I could make them look a bit better. Thanks for your responses girls.

DebbyM's picture
DebbyM
Posts: 3294
Joined: Oct 2009

So sorry Eil. Maybe there is still something you could do sooner. Wishing you luck!

Has anyone heard of the plastic surgeon's injecting something in your breast to make it fuller? Like collagen or stomach fat or something? I thought I read that on here.

Eil4186's picture
Eil4186
Posts: 967
Joined: Dec 2007

Thanks girls for your advise. I contacted a second surgeon and he concurred with the first. He said he wouln't even consider operating on irradiated skin. I guess that is that.

carkris's picture
carkris
Posts: 4520
Joined: Aug 2009

I wonder if it depends on where you live?

jnl's picture
jnl
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

I am really surprised that a PS won't operate on someone who had radiation. I guess I am ignorant inre to that. I assumed they could. I thought it might depend on what that individual's skin was like, since we all react differently to rads. Is that why so many have the expander's put in before rads?

Kylez's picture
Kylez
Posts: 3765
Joined: May 2009

I am sorry Eil that you can't have the surgery that you want. I didn't realize they wouldn't or couldn't operate on radiated skin.

Cancer Radiated Guy
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2010

I came across this discussion by way of Google. I am a 55 yr old male and I was again searching for a Doctor that specializes in operating on radiated skin. I know it is a waste of time but still trying . I had a good portion of my nose removed due to cancer and had it reconstructed and it looked pretty good. Then the cancer spread to my neck. I had that removed by surgery and since the cancer moved I had to undergo chemo and radiation. The radiation totally destroyed my nose by shrinking the skin tissue. Looked like a boxer of 50 years. I then had a forehead flap to fix it (where they take a 2" strip of skin from the forehead). This was non radiated skin but would not take due to trying to attach it to radiated skin. I have tried over 18 procedures now and I can tell you and sorry to say that after radiation your chaces of plastic surgery reconstruction are nil to VERY slim if not impossible. In short I guess we have to thank God we are still alive. Held my two grankids yesterday !!!! Screw cancer.

Mama G
Posts: 764
Joined: Nov 2009

I have a very close friend who chose to have implants before her radiation, then went back in to have a lift. She has now had 4 more surgeries and each one gets worse and worse as they try to repair the damage done with the prior surgery. I say just be glad you have boobs! From what I've heard my friend go through I wouldn't want anyone to have that pain and heartbreak. She is now battling a severe infection that resulted from the last surgery. It's going on 3 weeks of bed-rest. Not fun.

Mama G
Posts: 764
Joined: Nov 2009

double post

deeb111
Posts: 139
Joined: May 2011

 Im told that it is still possible for me to get mastectomy and reconstruc if i so choose cause i have tremendous amounts of pain in cancer side and had abcess on chest wall very bad cellulitis 2 years out was in hospital for 5 days so im almost at the point of wanting them removed just cant deal anymore so ive heard it is possible maybe pending what kind of reconstruc u do my original surgery for was partial mastectomy on left with bilateral reduction and grafts  so that was april 6 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network