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Pediatric Oncology Reconstructive Surgery

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Pediatric Oncology Reconstruction Surgery in Orange County

Cancer and oncology treatment can damage the body in ways that simultaneously affect appearance and function. After cancer treatment to restore the damaged area, reconstructive surgery may be the solution. 

When children and teenagers have cancer, the experience can be traumatic for everyone involved. By making the body look and feel whole again, reconstruction surgery can help a young patient regain a sense of well-being. 

Oncology reconstruction surgery is an element of an integrated cancer treatment plan. The plastic surgeon works closely with the other specialists on the patient’s medical team to determine the appropriate timing for reconstructive surgery when the tissue in the area is free of cancer. The plastic surgeon often works directly with the cancer surgeon when removing a tumor, repairing the treated area immediately after. Unlike plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons, reconstruction surgery after cancer is usually medically necessary and typically covered by insurance.

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To learn more about oncology reconstruction surgery for children and teenagers, contact UCI Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation.

Watch a short video of Dr. Vyas on the CHOC website: “When a child has plastic surgery after cancer treatment.

What Problems Can Oncology Reconstruction Surgery Correct?

Reconstruction surgery after cancer can restore the appearance and function of tissue that has been damaged by cancer or through its surgical removal or other treatment. Reconstruction surgery after cancer for children and teenagerss can rebuild areas of the:

  • Scalp, face, and jaw
  • Neck
  • Arms, legs, hands, and feet
  • Abdomen
  • Breast
  • Abdominal wall

Reconstruction surgery can: 

  • Restore bones and soft tissue
  • Repair damaged skin
  • Reconnect damaged nerves
  • Reduce scarring and disfigurement

What Does Reconstruction Surgery Entail?

Reconstruction surgery is a broad term for an array of procedures. In autologous reconstruction, a surgeon may rebuild damage using tissue from elsewhere on the body. Otherwise, a surgeon may reconstruct an area using artificial implants.

Procedures that may be part of reconstruction surgery after cancer include:

in which a surgeon transplants healthy tissue from another part of the body to the area being repaired. 

which are akin to grafts, except the transplanted tissue has an independent blood supply. Microsurgical techniques connect small blood vessels in the transplanted tissue to the blood supply in the surgical area. In free flap transplants, a surgeon may also connect nerves using microsurgery. This type of reconstruction allows a doctor to transplant skin, fat, muscle, tendon, and bone.

  • in which a surgeon extends and reattaches adjacent tissue to fill and cover the damaged area. The extended tissue has an established, uninterrupted blood supply, so this technique can result in faster healing. It can also involve minimal scarring.
  •  in which a surgeon places an artificial body part to fill a gap left by removal of cancerous bone or tissue. For example, a custom-made implant can replace an area of the skull. Replacement hip joints are another type of artificial implant.

 which makes scars from cancer treatment less noticeable.

When Should Oncology Reconstruction Surgery Take Place?

The timing of oncology reconstruction surgery depends on the nature of the cancer treatment. In some cases, a doctor will perform reconstruction surgery immediately after removing cancerous tissue – for instance, after removing a tumor with clean margins. In other cases, the surgeon allows the treated area to heal and thoroughly checks it to ensure the removal of all cancerous tissue before performing reconstruction surgery.

After close consultation, your child’s surgical team will determine the timing of the cancer reconstructive surgery and explain the treatment plan to you and your child.

What Can My Child Expect on the Day of the Procedure?

Reconstruction surgery takes place while your child is under anesthesia — either general anesthesia or, for minor reconstruction, local anesthesia with sedation. 

The specific steps in the procedure will depend on the necessary correction. As part of their surgical planning and preparation, the plastic surgeon will explain what the surgery will entail and what you and your child can expect.

Start Your Journey Today!

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What to Expect After Reconstruction Surgery

Recovery times and experience will vary with the procedure performed. 

When your child is ready to go home, the staff at UCI Plastic Surgery and at CHOC will provide specific instructions for recovery, including guidance on how to care for dressings, manage pain, and bathe, and when to resume normal activity. 

Your doctor will schedule follow-up appointments to track your child’s progress in healing and will be available to respond to your questions.

Coping With Body Self-Image and Emotional Issues

Cancer that requires reconstruction surgery can affect a child’s self-image and trigger emotional issues. By design, the reconstruction surgery should make your child feel better about themselves by improving their appearance and restoring physical abilities. Social and psychological support may also be necessary to help your child get past the trauma of the diagnosis and treatment and the time they may have spent with damage to their bodies. 

Ask your child’s cancer treatment team at CHOC about how to address your child’s emotional needs. These sensitive mental concerns may prove to be as important to your child’s well-being as the treatment to restore your child’s health and physical appearance.

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Schedule a Consultation in Orange County

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about oncology reconstructive surgery for your child. We’ll answer your questions and explain what to expect and how the surgery might benefit your child. We offer pediatric consultations with our UCI Plastic Surgery Team at CHOC.

The doctors at UCI Plastic Surgery are leaders in the field of cosmetic surgery. Through their teaching and lecturing roles at UCI, they stay current with state-of-the-art techniques and technology. With their advanced technical skills, they consistently produce better, more natural-looking results for their patients.