Plastic and reconstructive surgery after cancer

Reconstructive surgeons repair parts of the body injured by cancer and cancer treatment. The plastic and reconstructive surgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute share world-class expertise to treat all types of cancer. Our surgeons meet weekly and monthly to offer highly collaborative, integrated and personalized care.

Specialized reconstructive surgeons work across specialties to restore what cancer takes away. We perform natural breast reconstruction, complex nose or jaw reconstruction, novel lymphoma surgery, hand and limb surgery after osteosarcoma or other cancers, and more.

Why is reconstructive surgery done?

Certain cancers can cause disfiguring or debilitating damage to nearly any area of the body, from head to toe. Doctors may need to remove all or part of a breast, limb or other tissues to save a life. Related changes can affect your appearance or functions, such as chewing and swallowing, holding a phone or walking.

If you’re planning surgery or have cancer-related injury, our reconstructive surgeons are available to help. We restore form, function and confidence after head and neck cancers, bone, breast and skin cancer, benign and cancerous tumors, and other conditions.

Reconstructive microsurgery and super-microsurgery expertise

Most of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's plastic and reconstructive surgery team have advanced fellowship-level microsurgery expertise. Some have subspecialty training in super-microsurgery, microvascular surgery and other areas. Using smart technologies, surgeons can operate on structures invisible to the naked eye. We repair nerves, restore blood flow and close wounds using threads as thin as a strand of hair. After treatment and rehab, patients at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center are learning to walk, wave and smile again.

What types of reconstructive cancer surgeries are offered at Ohio State?

Our doctors perform a full array of plastic and reconstructive procedures related to cancer care. Services include targeted rehab, such as speech and occupational therapy, hand therapy and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.

Breast reconstruction surgery options after mastectomy

If you have had or are planning a partial, complete or double mastectomy, our caring experts will guide you through your options, including breast reconstruction. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is among a trusted group of Comprehensive Breast Centers designated by the American College of Surgeons and National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers.

Surgeons can transplant your own tissues or use implants to reshape breasts. We can transplant skin, fat and muscle with supporting nerves and vessels from one part of the body, such as the abdomen, to another, such as a breast or jaw. This can help to close and protect wounds, restore feeling and blood flow, and create a natural appearance.

Your doctors will discuss materials, approaches, benefits, risks and timing. These depend on your condition, care plan and goals. In some instances, breast reconstruction can be part of a mastectomy procedure. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center surgeons are skilled in many procedures and approaches, including:

  • DIEP flap – During this muscle-preserving surgery, doctor transplant a flap of skin, fat and deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP) blood vessels from the lower abdomen to use for breast reconstruction.
  • Free flap – Surgeons use your own muscle tissues to recreate a breast, without requiring implants. The surgery achieves good results, but it’s an intricate operation that takes longer and requires a longer recovery. Some patients require blood transfusion during free flap surgery.
  • GAP flap – Surgeons reconstruct the breast using the GAP (gluteal artery perforator) blood vessel in the buttocks, as well as skin and fat from this area. It’s a muscle-sparing flap option, since doctors don’t remove any muscle tissue.
  • Latissimus dorsi (back muscle) flap reconstruction – Surgeons move back muscle, along with skin, fat and blood vessels, to the chest through a tunnel under the skin. Doctors form a new breast or insert an artificial breast implant.
  • Nipple areola creation or reconstruction – Surgeons may create a nipple mound on the reconstructed breast using skin from the chest or other areas, such as an inner thigh. Doctors can tattoo the areola, which surrounds the nipple, for a realistic look. Or, we can rebuild it using a skin graft from the abdomen or other part of the body.
  • Prosthetic breast implant using expanders – Doctors insert a tissue expander in your upper chest and inject it with saline solution. This stretches the tissues over weeks or months. When it reaches the desired size, surgeons replace it with a breast implant.
  • Surgery on second breast for symmetry – Surgeons may operate on a healthy breast to balance size, shape or volume between both breasts.
  • TRAM flap – Transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap surgery involves moving part of your lower abdominal (rectus abdominis) muscle, including skin, fat and blood vessels, up to your chest through a tunnel under the skin. This creates a natural-looking breast, so an implant isn’t usually needed.
  • TUG flap – This procedure uses the transverse upper gracilis (TUG) blood vessel that runs through the upper thigh area. Using a graft from the upper thigh can limit visible scarring.

Other types of reconstructive surgery for cancer treatment

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center offers a wide range of treatments, including flap procedures, tissue transplants or other approaches and postsurgical therapies. Treatment and conditions treated include:

  • Advanced lymphedema care – from an elite Lymphedema Center of Excellence, offering innovative surgical solutions
  • Arm, leg or other limb salvage and complex wound care
  • Esophageal reconstruction
  • Face, jaw and craniofacial reconstruction – including injury related to brain or head and neck cancers
  • Facial reanimation – restores facial movement and functions, from blinking to eating and smiling after cancer-related injury
  • Gynecological and urology cancers
  • Hand reconstruction after cancer-related injury or amputation
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Nerve injuries and neuropathies
  • Sarcomas, bone and spine cancers
  • Skin cancer
  • Thoracic (chest area) cancers
  • Rehabilitation

Plastic and reconstructive surgery approaches used in cancer care

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center leads the way in using the latest technologies and techniques, including advanced surgical, microsurgical and microvascular treatment options, such as:

  • Artificial implants – Including the latest and most effective prosthetics, such as breast implants after mastectomy, dental implants after oral cancers, or other supportive materials and devices
  • Autologous (natural) reconstruction – Advanced methods of transplantation or transfer of your own tissue to restore shape and form, using tissue from part of your body, such as the abdomen or thighs, to reshape a jaw, breast, limb or body feature
  • Craniotomy (bone or skull removal) and neurosurgery procedures – Including virtually designed, custom implants that can be integrated with monitoring and shunt (drainage) devices
  • Flap procedures – Including local flap surgery using nearby tissues, without blood vessels and nerves, for faster healing and less scarring, or transfers that include vessels, nerves and muscles to preserve feeling, function and shape
  • Lipedema – Removing irregular, often painful excess fat from lower extremities or other parts of the body
  • Lymphedema surgeries – Including microscopic lymphovenous bypass (LVB) to reroute lymphatic channels and improve drainage or procedures to reintroduce lymph nodes
  • Scar revision surgery – Treats certain types of scarring from previous surgeries
  • Skin, tendon and bone grafts – Transplantation of these and other tissues for effective, functional and natural reconstruction in any part of the body

Ohio State’s reconstructive cancer surgery physician leaders

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's reconstructive cancer surgeons and scientists are leaders by every measure, from fellowship-level expertise to research and faculty leadership at Ohio State, nationally and globally. We work closely together, from clinical care to surgery to on- and off-line collaboration and collegiality. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center's cancer reconstructive surgery team includes these and many other surgeon-scientists, physician leaders and specialists who bring unique, complementary skills to the team:

Reconstructive surgery and cancer care department leaders

Amy Moore, MD, FACS

Amy Moore, MD, FACS

Amy Moore, MD, FACS, is chair of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. She’s a distinguished surgeon and scientist widely recognized for her pioneering leadership in the field and microsurgical capabilities offered by few others in the world. Areas of specialization include super-microsurgery for peripheral nerve injuries and peripheral neuropathies, including complex hand and trauma reconstructive surgery. Dr. Moore spearheads a major federally funded translational scientific research investigation of advanced limb reconstruction.

Dr. Moore has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles in addition to other publications. She was designated as visiting professor for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand’s Plastic Surgery, in addition to serving as visiting professor for the Plastic Surgery Foundation and other roles. Dr. Moore serves on the scientific advisory board for the International Symposium of Neural Regeneration, the Board of the American Association of Hand Surgery and the American Society for Peripheral Nerve.

Roman Skoracki, MD

Roman Skoracki, MD

Roman Skoracki, MD, is division chief for oncologic plastic surgery at the OSUCCC – James. He focuses on cancer-related reconstruction surgery, microsurgery and surgical lymphedema treatment. Dr. Skoracki is among just a few surgeons nationwide performing microvascular lymphedema surgery.

His research focuses include breast cancer, sarcoma, and head and neck cancer reconstruction, in addition to lymphedema studies. He has published nearly 60 peer-reviewed manuscripts and three book chapters, and co-edited Advanced Therapy of Breast Diseases and head and neck reconstruction textbooks. Dr. Skoracki is an editorial board member for the Archives of Clinical and Experimental Surgery and guest reviewer for the Annals of Plastic Surgery. He holds several offices in national professional organizations.

Other specialists on the cancer reconstructive surgery team

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