Reconstructive surgery is all about repairing and restoring normal appearance and function to body parts malformed by a disease or medical condition. Reconstructive surgery can help recondition the body part and reshape bodily structures affected by birth defects, abnormalities, trauma, injuries, infections, tumors, and disease etc. In order to repair the damage, you may need a type of surgery called reconstructive surgery. Multiple conditions that can be treated by this procedure are-
- Conditions like cleft lip and palate, ear deformities such as constricted ears, and ‘autogenous ear reconstruction’ for the treatment of microtia (birth defects of a baby's ear), hands and upper limb injuries, cranial and facial deformations, birthmarks etc.
- Conditions that develop or occur after birth such as cancer conditions, especially cancer of the skin, breast, head, neck, and sarcoma, severe infections, reconstructive repair of facial trauma etc.
- Conditions that affect the hand including nerve compression, paralysis, arthritis, ganglions, etc.
- "Cosmetic surgery," is the surgery that aims to improve a person's appearance, rather than for medical reasons.
How Reconstructive surgery is performed?
Prior to having reconstructive surgery, you must have a consultation with your plastic surgeon about all the dos and don'ts before and after the surgery, any risks, or any other doubt about the surgery. Reconstructive surgery is performed by using the tissue of one area of the body to repair any other part of the body. For example, you might have a cleft lip and palate to treat, so surgeons can repair the incompletely fused area of the lip and palate by using local flaps and grafts. Or you may also have been born with birth defects of the hand – like where a child has been born with too many or too few digits. Plastic surgeons can rectify such kinds of birth defects by using this procedure.
Procedure of Reconstructive surgery
Pre-operative tests- There are some pre-operative tests that your surgeon will suggest, prior to surgery, such as-
- Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), blood sugar tests
- Clotting time and bleeding time
- Liver and kidney tests
- Lung function test
- MRI, CT scan, endoscopy
- Chest x-ray to check your lungs
- ECG (electrocardiogram) to check your heart
Diet before the Reconstructive surgery procedure
- You must not consume green tea, liquor, processed food, refined carbohydrates, vitamin E, caffeinated beverages, carbonated beverages, smoking etc.
- You should consume fresh fruits, fish, vegetables, avocados, whole grains etc.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your digestion working well and your skin clear.
- Stop taking all nutritional and herbal supplements (vitamins, herbals, minerals etc.) at least 2-3 weeks prior to surgery.
Techniques used in reconstructive surgery
The main techniques used by plastic surgeons in reconstructive procedures are skin grafts, tissue expansion, flap surgery, and microsurgery.
Reconstructive surgery procedure Type
Reconstructive surgery comes under surgical procedure.
Follow-up care after Reconstructive surgery
- Take your medications on time.
- If you have been prescribed antibiotics, then complete the full course of antibiotic medicines.
- Follow your doctor's instructions while icing, do not place ice packs or cold compresses directly against your skin. Icing will help reduce your swelling and discomfort. Swelling will subside in time.
- Consume light food after 1-2 days of surgery.
- Have plenty of water.
- Inform the doctor immediately if you feel feverish or the temperature goes above 100 degrees. Check your temperature regularly.
Risks/complications of Reconstructive surgery
As with any type of surgery, plastic surgery has associated risks such as-
- Blood loss- Sometimes excessive blood loss may occur during the surgery that may lead to drop in blood pressure or other complications.
- Hematoma- Blood clotting outside the blood vessels that leads to painful bruises.
- Risk of Infection
- Numbness and tingling can be experienced occasionally after the surgery.
- Blood clotting
- Reaction to anesthesia may lead to rashes, nausea, vomiting, shivering, etc.
- Not much satisfied with the new appearance.
Recovery of Reconstructive surgery
The recovery process depends on the procedure performed, and it varies from person to person. Usually, the initial healing of the wound takes around 2-3 weeks. It does take several months for a complete recovery to swelling, changes in skin sensation, and bruising of the skin to resolve. Especially for patients who have gone through radiation therapy for breast cancer treatment. Because radiation damages the cells to a microscopic level, which makes it hard for cells and tissues to heal quickly. The healing process will continue, but scar lines will mitigate over time, but it is uncertain that they will vanish completely. Patients can carry out their daily activities for 1-2 months after the surgery.
Before you leave the hospital, you must discuss with your surgeon what preventives need to be taken and how to look after the surgical site. For a quick recovery, you need to rest well during the first week and avoid heavy exercise, smoking, driving, and stress.