Friday, 2 July 2010

Mastectomy for beginners

I know it was my idea, but flippin' 'eck. The orange workshop was amazing. I think it has the potential to be a brilliant teaching tool for women who want to understand what happens to their body during oncoplastic surgery. Picture this (or better yet, watch the video):
  1. Mr A goes and blows another of my theories out of the water, which is that once the areola is removed, the skin of the breast is scored like an orange to make flaps that open wide enough so they can get to the tissue. Not so! Instead, the skin is stretched back and held in place by pin thingies. (I think that is the technical term.) Apparently when you do that, you can see the planes inside and easily separate them: layers of tissue, fat, dermis and epidermis. Alum Bay-style stripes of colour come to mind for some peculiar reason.
  2. They don't use a bog-standard scalpel on the breast, other than on the skin when they remove the areola. They use an electric knife of sorts. But not like the one my mum used to carve the roast with briefly in the eighties, obviously. She soon went back to manual. But as far as breasts are concerned, harmonic scalpels are the preferred sort. They vibrate about 5000 times a second or something. You'll have to watch the video eventually, because I probably got that wrong. Good job Mr A likes fact-checking.
  3. Mr A tells stories about breast surgery of different kinds and the various approaches surgeons take. Of course, much of this discussion takes place off camera. Mr A has one way of doing reconstruction; his cohorts have another. And of course, each woman's result is entirely unique. More proof that it's more art than science in my mind. 

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