Summary: As with many procedures, breast reconstruction operations come in a few different varieties, and each technique has its strengths and weaknesses. Recently, surgeons in Australia have published results of a “scarless”—or at least, less scarring—technique of the latissmus dorsi flat breast reconstruction procedure.

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Never Entirely Scarless

It goes without saying that breast reconstruction, especially after cancer, is a sensitive topic. But it’s also an area of medicine that’s seen a significant amount of innovation and development, much of which has been geared towards providing women who elect to have a reconstructive procedure with better results. The latest example of this innovation comes out of Australia and is something called a “scarless” flap.

Of course, it isn’t entirely scarless. But it differs slightly from typical techniques—and it should be noted that this innovation is not a new procedure, but rather a new technique. It’s a little confusing, I know, so let’s take a look at a couple of traditional breast reconstruction procedures.

There are two common types of breast reconstruction.

  • A TRAM flap is used when abdominal tissue is decided as the best donor material.
  • A latissmus dorsi flap is used when, as is the case with the new technique, back muscles are used to create the reconstructed breast.

The viability of each procedure will depend on the patient and the trauma that is to be reconstructed.

New Techniques and Reliable Results

The new technique, reported in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery—Global Open, requires only one flap. This means that there is only one small scar. And because this improves on latissmus dorsi flap techniques already used, women generally reported better sensation after the procedure. In fact, when the new technique was performed, the operation usually lasted an hour less than normal, and women returned to their homes a day and a half sooner. Even if your surgeon does not perform the new technique, latissmus dorsi flap procedures, such as those performed by East Coast Advanced Plastic Surgery in New Jersey, can have excellent results. Indeed, ECA Plastic Surgery are so dedicated to effectively helping women recover from breast trauma that in 2011, they opened the ECAPS Center for Breast Reconstruction. And they aren’t the only ones. Many oncological surgeons will not consult with plastic surgeons to ensure easier, more natural, and more effective reconstruction after a mastectomy.

As with any breast reconstruction, even with the newer technique, the end result isn’t going to be perfect. Sensation in the breast will be different than it was before the mastectomy. Additionally, a second operation will need to be performed in order to expand the new breast tissue to the desired size. And these are important steps in any recovery. If you’re wondering what technique is best for you, the only way to settle the matter—and continue your recovery—is to discuss your options with your plastic surgeon.