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Radiation treatment following a mastectomy in the treatment of breast cancer is fairly common. Though refinements have been made in the radiation therapy that have significantly reduced both short and long term sequelae to the skin and underlying tissues, permanent consequences nevertheless exist which will affect the tissue expander breast reconstruction.

What does radiation do to the skin and soft tissues? The ionizing effects damage healthy cells causing scarring and thickening with increased rigidity of the tissues and less suppleness. The result is firmer feeling skin that is more rigid and more resistant to the stretching which is necessary with tissue expansion breast reconstruction. The small blood vessels in the field of treatment are also permanently damaged resulting in a reduction of blood supply to the tissues. Less oxygen and nutrients available to the tissues translates into an increased the risk of infection, greater susceptibility to trauma and prolonged healing times from surgery and injury. .

As a consequence of these changes, it is far more difficult to expand irradiated tissue in facilitating the breast reconstruction as compared to normal tissue. The increase in size obtained may be less than ideally desired and it can take much longer. Qualitatively, it often feels firm and appears darker than the surrounding skin. There is also an increased incidence of infections, formation of scar tissue around the expander, separation of recently closed incisions and even extrusion and exposure of the tissue expander through the skin.

Though tissue expander breast reconstruction can yield satisfactory results in tissue that has been previously irradiated, there are many attendant risks that need to be considered before selecting this option.

If you would like to obtain additional information on breast reconstruction or any other surgical procedure that I perform or to schedule a consultation, you can contact my office at 480-451-3000.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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A Message Regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19

As always, our highest priority is to ensure YOUR safety and well-being.

With coronavirus/COVID-19 still a health issue, we want you to know that we are continuing to take extreme infection control measures in our office to maximize cleanliness and keep the environment as sanitary and safe as possible. This also means that only patients will be permitted to come into our office and everyone will have their temperature checked.

In an abundance of caution, we are requesting that if you are experiencing a fever, cough, chills, fatigue or any type of respiratory illness, please delay any upcoming appointments at our practice. We can talk with you by phone or email to establish a new date and time for the appointment. You may also want to contact your healthcare provider for further evaluation.

We do offer Virtual Consultations and Telemedicine through doxy.me. This is best used for specific situations including postoperative questions and as a substitute for some postoperative office visits relating to certain procedures. However, if you are planning to proceed with surgery, an in-office evaluation will be required.

We are all in this together and really appreciate your cooperation. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by phone or email.