Breasts are one of the secondary sex characteristics of the female body and are associated with various functions, not only biological but also social, as they are one of the most evident physical symbols of a woman, so much so that breast augmentation is one of the most sought after operations for transgender women. Besides its physiological function in breastfeeding, the breast is often considered a symbol of femininity and sensuality. The image of the breast has been celebrated in various artistic, cultural, and social contexts, influencing the idea of beauty in different eras and cultures.
However, it is essential to remember that breasts are not not just an aesthetic symbol but a living tissue subject to various medical conditions, including breast cancer. Breast cancer is a serious and widespread condition that affects many women worldwide. Facing this disease requires not only medical attention but also emotional and psychological support for women who confront this challenge.
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure aimed at restoring harmony in the female figure following breast tumour removal operations. «There are reconstruction interventions with the grafting of the patient’s adipose tissue, then there is the so-called hybrid reconstruction where the prosthesis is modelled with adipose tissue, or the intervention that involves only the implantation of a prosthesis,» says Carlo Magliocca, a surgeon specialising in reconstructive and aesthetic plastic surgery and president of S.I.C.P.R.E.
The reconstruction operation is the final step in a multidisciplinary therapeutic path that starts from the cancer diagnosis and ends with tumour removal and subsequent reconstruction. «After the tumour removal surgery, whether it is destructive or conservative, breast symmetry is also proposed to the patient, which has not only a cosmetic but also a functional value,» explains Dr. Gretha Grilz, a specialist in plastic surgery and surgeon at the Breast Unit of the Cottolengo Hospital in Turin.
«The appearance of the breast, and its beauty, represents a fundamental aspect of a woman’s identity,» continues Dr. Grilz. «The healing process helps to regain future planning, daily life, and hope. At the end of the journey, a rebirth occurs,» she concludes.
Reconstruction or augmentation?
Breasts reconstruction and breasts augmentation are two very different surgical procedures. Augmentation aims to improve the shape of the breast in women dissatisfied with theirs. «When a woman asks us to intervene on the breast cone, it means that she doesn’t see herself as she would like to be, and her body shape leads to personal insecurity,» explains Magliocca, highlighting that these interventions are rarely driven by mere vanity but are often genuine needs.
On the other hand, reconstruction is, as the name suggests, a new construction of the breast removed after an operation. «The breast is removed, and therefore something that is no longer there must be reconstructed, not something that already exists improved,» specifies Dr. Silvia Germano, a specialist in plastic, reconstructive, and aesthetic surgery at Maria Vittoria Hospital in Turin.
«There are patients who decide not to undergo breast reconstruction, and if the decision is made consciously, it must be respected,» explains Dr. Germano. «Each of us lives our image intimately and personally, so a doctor should never force this decision if the patient’s desire is not to reconstruct» she concludes.