Cosmetic & Reconstructive Surgery Expert Forum
Incision not healing after surgery
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Questions in the Cosmetic Surgery forum are answered by Dr. Howard Rosenberg and Dr. Wolfeld. Topics include bariatric surgery reconstruction, breast augmentation, chemical peels, cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, face lift, nose reconstruction, and tummy tucks.

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Incision not healing after surgery

I had cancer in the left breast in 2005 and underwent a partial mastectomy, chemo and finally radiation.  In April of 2010 signs of precancer were showing and I had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction using the muscle extenders.

The incision at the "Y" under the nipple never healed, got infected and the muscle extenders were removed from both breasts, I was put on a portable IV and vaccum pump to draw out any body fluids which would build up after this surgery.

It is now July 23 and I have yet to heal.  The "Y" is still open and the hole is getting larger.  My plastic surgeon is at a loss and has now sent me to a Chinese Doctor with the hopes that Eastern medicine can accomplish what Western medicine could not do.

Needless to say I am now depressed, have been dropping weight, poor self image (I am 48 and single) have the body of a 10 yr old boy, no where to turn.

Is this side effect from surgery after radiation typical?  Is there a way to get the incision to heal together so that breast augmentation could proceed and I can again feel like a whole woman again.  

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Radiation therapy affects the small blood vessels of treated tissue and is well know to cause significant healing problems.  One way of eliminating this problem is to bring in un-radiated tissue into the area, so reconstruction can be performed.  This can be done with a microvascular transfer of tissue from another area or with a pedicled flap such as a TRAM flap of latissimus muscle flap.  Your plastic surgeon should be well aware of these techiques and if not comfortable with them, should refer you to a surgeon whose is knowledgable with these procedures.
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