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No less important: The aesthetic side of treating breast cancer

The public health system now enables women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to undergo breast reconstruction at the same time as a lumpectomy and participate in the decision regarding the appearance of their breast afterwards

Dr. Or Friedman

Dr. Yoram Wolf 

According to figures from the Israel Cancer Association, every year in Israel around 4,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It is not by chance that lumpectomies and mastectomies have become some of the most common operations, and correspondingly, more and more women are choosing to undergo breast reconstruction surgery to restore a balanced feminine appearance. Thanks to early detection and advanced treatment options, the tumors which surgeons need to remove are being “caught” when they are smaller and smaller, leaving the woman with more healthy breast tissue.


Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately, meaning at the same time as the lumpectomy and before the oncological treatments, or at a later stage, after they are over. It is important to note that it has been medically proven that breast reconstruction does not delay oncological treatment, nor does it reduce the treatment’s effectiveness.


Reconstruction during or after the lumpectomy?

In recent years, the common and recommended approach is to perform breast reconstruction at the same time as the lumpectomy. Oncoplastic surgery is the method of carrying out one surgical procedure to combine the surgical-oncological and aesthetic facets. “A woman who must undergo a lumpectomy or mastectomy is provided with a full explanation regarding the treatment, and weighs up the options available to her together with the surgical, plastic surgery, and oncological team: beginning with what will be removed, the complementary treatments, and up to the reconstruction possibilities, individually adapting them to her needs,” explains Dr. Or Friedman, specialist in breast reconstruction in the Plastic Surgery Unit at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center. “The cooperation between the medical teams and the overall view of the lumpectomy or mastectomy and reconstruction improve the patient’s experience and enable her to be given a continuum of treatment throughout the period of medical care.”


Dr. Friedman emphasizes that this is first and foremost, surgery to cure cancer in a public hospital, but the advantage lies in the woman’s opportunity to reconstruct her breasts at the same time, to avoid additional surgery, and also be an active participant in the decision regarding how her body will look after the operation. This results in a similar experience to that of private plastic surgery, except that the costs are covered in their entirety by the health basket. “Some may raise their eyebrows and argue that what is most important is the removal of the tumor, but with the improved and advanced abilities we can allow ourselves to think beyond and also improve quality of life, meaning the patient’s self-image and feminine appearance, which will remain long after the disease is conquered,” stresses Dr. Friedman.


Dr. Yoram Wolf, Director of the Plastic Surgery Unit, joins him: “Like leading medical centers in Israel and overseas, we provide inclusive and holistic services, bringing together all those treating breast disease under one roof. We design the precise treatment for each and every patient, and try to sweeten, as much as possible, the bitter pill called breast cancer.”


Dr. Wolf also notes that reconstruction during the lumpectomy or mastectomy process has been found to be safer and more effective. There is a 3%-15% risk of developing infection or bleeding from oncloplastic surgery, while there is a 30% risk of infection from breast reconstruction surgery after a certain amount of time. In addition, reconstruction at a later stage, particularly after radiation therapy, is more difficult and complicated due to the cicatricial and post-radiation breast tissue, and therefore, the results of the reconstruction will be less aesthetic. Likewise, during immediate reconstruction, tissues can be used from the breast itself, enhancing the appearance. To summarize, both note: “It is important that breast cancer patients facing a lumpectomy or mastectomy also understand that they have the power and possibility to make decisions about their bodies. Today every woman has the right to have breast reconstruction when undergoing a lumpectomy or mastectomy in a public hospital, and perhaps enjoy the breasts she always dreamed of”.


For additional information and to schedule an appointment at the Plastic Surgery Clinic, contact the Appointment Call Center at *6742.

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