Human Acellular Dermal Matrices Provide More Natural and Healthier Breast Reconstructions
- 29 July 2014
- Dr. Nidal (Nick) Masri
Last week we touched briefly on the use of silicone breast implants in breast reconstructions. Breast reconstructions are done after a mastectomy for the treatment or prevention of breast cancer. The priority or main objective of the mastectomy to cure or prevent cancer. However, after remission
is attained, a breast reconstruction can help reestablish an individual’s quality of life.
After a mastectomy, depression sometimes occurs. The goal of a breast reconstruction is to relieve the burdens, and restore the patient’s confidence and self-esteem.
Over the last decade, plastic surgery has developed numerous innovations related to breast surgery, including breast implant safety and efficacy. Post-mastectomy patients are always a cautious group. There was considerable concern from the patient community about whether breast implants were safe or if they only caused more and bigger problems. However, with significant research and study, plastic surgery has developed methods that promise safety to their patients.
Breast reconstruction surgery can be done with a couple of different techniques. You can opt to have implants, either silicone or saline. Your surgeon can use human tissue (fat, skin, sometimes even muscle tissue) to form the breast. This technique is called an allograft if the tissue comes from another human, or an autograft if it comes from your own body. Some surgeons and their patients choose a combination of these two techniques.
Recent studies show that a combined technique provides the best results and the most patient satisfaction. However, each technique has its pros and cons to consider. Breast implants, for example, will often require a much less extensive surgery, but the results probably will not feel or look quite as natural as the other options.
Why a combined technique for breast reconstruction?
Let’s take a look at why studies show that a combined technique breast reconstruction is preferable.
Breast reconstruction is considered part of the total care for curing cancer. Reestablishing a normal life after cancer is a priority for breast cancer survivors and their loved ones.
In studies, when allograft tissue was used along with implants, overall patient satisfaction was greater. Here’s why:
Patients claimed to have a very natural looking breast with symmetry and natural movement. Evidence also shows that these patients experienced low risk for complications during and after surgery.
The combined technique involves a human acellular dermal matrix. This tissue is human tissue that is implanted alongside an implant. It has a role to play beyond simply adding volume to the breast. The dermal matrix is placed in such a way to add a sort of built in bra to support the implant. The study showed evidence that women preferred this option over others while experiencing an overall healthy recovery without major complications.
Remember, each surgical technique has its pros and cons. Those who are less concerned with the natural look, feel, and movement of their breast may choose to have simple implants without an allograft. Whatever you choose, be confident in your decision. As always, seek reputable medical guidance and consultation before making your breast reconstruction decision.
Source: Valdatta L, Cattaneo AG, Pellegatta I, Scamoni S, Minuti A, Cherubino M. Acellular dermal matrices and radiotherapy in breast reconstruction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. Plast Surg Int. 2014;2014:472604. doi: 10.1155/2014/472604. Epub 2014 May 21.