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Reconstruction issues after radiotherapy


Re: Reconstruction issues after radiotherapy

Hi Parties2go
Thank you for posting. It sounds as though you have been through a very challenging and difficult time since your initial surgery and treatment for breast cancer, and this is continuing some five and a half years later. It's understandable you feel disheartened and that although you may undergo further surgery the outcome could still not be what you are hoping to achieve.

Although a lot of women are satisfied with the outcome, many women do require additional surgery after breast reconstruction as you have experienced. As you say the addition of radiotherapy can damage the skin and the aesthetic outcome too. It may help to ensure that you are wearing a good fitting bra to help improve symmetry. 

I wonder if you have considered getting a second opinion from another surgeon. It may help to find out if there are any other possible options. You can either ask your treatment team to refer you elsewhere or your GP can help with this.  

If you would like to connect with other women to find out about their experiences after breast reconstruction you can do this on another section of the Forum.

You may also find it helpful talking to someone who has had a similar experience, and our Someone Like Me service can match you with a trained volunteer who’s had a similar experience to you. They'll be a phone call or email away to answer your questions, offer support or simply listen.

You can ring the Someone Like Me team on 0114 263 6490 or email them at someone.likeme@breastcancernow.org, so they can then match you to your volunteer. 

We also offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in.  They include face to face and online courses and events.

For more details about all of these services, please see the information on the link, or call our free Helpline

Do call our Helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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Reconstruction issues after radiotherapy


After my mastectomy 5 1/2  years ago, I had an expander added and filled over weeks but before it reached the final amount of saline agreed, radio therapy was started and therefore, no more could be added. I went on to have a diep flap (2 years later) and although that has been fine in medical terms, aesthetically, it looks awful as the radiotherapy has done significant damage to the skin, leaving a circle of puckered tissue in the top half of my breast, the diep flap being on the lower half. There is a 5 cm+ difference in droop (gulp) to the right breast, even though I was given an uplift on that side at the time. Seeing my surgeon today, she has told me that the only remaining thing they can do, with some reluctance, is to give me another expander and use a combination of saline & silicone to see if the skin could be further stretched to create volume and some kind of symmetry. Atm, my breasts don't look like they belong on the same body (not helped because I am also missing a nipple on the reconstructed breast) and the scarring is not helped by the thinner skin caused by radiotherapy. More worryingly, my surgeon is not overly confident about the results of the next surgery and suggests I brace myself to 'accept the outcome' - whatever it is. Having had no clue that this might be the possible outcome of my surgery & radiotherapy at the start of all this, it is fairly tough to hear after 5 1/2 years of waiting for things to get better, especially as every photo I ever was ever shown of breasts, large, small, perky, droopy or whatever, had no such differences. All in all, its a bit disheartening to feel that after all this time, it might amount to no progress at all and I just wondered if anybody else has had this kind of thing happen and has any suggestions for alternative solutions, in this country or elsewhere.

Many thanks