Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

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Restoring Normal Form and Function Achieving good results through careful and individual planning

Reconstructive surgery is challenging and demanding. It corrects all kinds of appearance issues on the face and the body. Congenital defects, radical cancer surgery and big traumas are the most common reasons for these issues and deformities.

The most important aspect leading to a good result is careful and individual planning for surgery. Therefore surgery is always preceded by a consultation visit to the treatment clinic where quality healthcare consultation can be provided.

Reconstructive Plastic Surgery in Finland

Free skin transplants, local flaps or free flaps (tissue transplants) are the basic methods in reconstructive plastic surgery.  When tissue transplantation is used, the aim is that the donor site should be as invisible as possible.

Microvascular free tissue transfer facilitates the correction of extensive tissue damage and the correction of tissue deficiency resulting from major trauma or radical surgery of difficult cancers. In this microvascular technique, the tissue to be transferred is disconnected from the body’s blood supply and reconnected to the blood vessels at the recipient site.

The reconnection of the nerves in order to restore sensation to the transplanted tissue (e.g. in microneurovascular MS-TRAM breast reconstruction) represents a state-of-the-art technique in plastic surgery.

The first microneurovascular face transplant in Finland was performed in Helsinki University Hospital a couple of years ago.

Plastic surgeons are also trained in replantation surgery (reattachment of limbs). However, in Finland this is primarily a special field of hand surgeons.

The Helena Medical Group offers all kinds of reconstructive plastic surgery. For example, children can be treated for congenital cheilopalatochisis correction and correction of skull deformities and reconstruction of ear in microtia (absent or abnormal ear).  For adults, the Helena Medical Group offers reconstruction after facial skin tumours (for example reconstruction of the eyelid with a flap) as well as breast and body reconstructive surgery.

All breast reconstruction methods are available and the chosen techniques are always tailor-made for the patient. Reconstructive surgery of the body is an essential part of plastic surgery. Procedures correcting any deformities of the body especially after postbariatric surgery, are done skilfully and professionally.

Breast Reconstruction

A breast can be reconstructed after the patient has fully recovered from cancer treatment. This usually takes 1-2 years. For patients with high-risk cancer, it is recommended to allow three years for recovery.

An absent breast or deformation caused by an illness should be recontructed preferably with the patient's own tissue, flaps, tissue transplants or fat transplants. Post breast cancer treatment reconstruction usually can be done with local tissue, using the so called oncoplastic techniques.

Occasionally, a very lean patient has no available tissue. In these cases transplants can be used. Nowadays it is quite common that when a breast is removed due to breast cancer (mastectomy), an expander prosthesis is planted during the same procedure.

This treatment forms a pocket under the pectoral (chest) muscle and an empty tissue expander is inserted into the pocket. An acellular dermal matrix (e.g. Strattice) is usually used to support the lower outer portion of the expander prosthesis.

The skin is then stretched by filling the expander prosthesis with saline infusion. Afterwards, a new breast can be reconstructed using the patient's own tissue or implant. Breast implants can have a xenogeneic reaction (4-15 %  probability). The breast then forms a capsule and needs to be operated on again.

Other treatments include breast augmentations and breast reduction plastic surgery.

A successful implant reconstruction demands precise planning and advanced techniques.

The Helena Medical Group's partner company Clinic Helena specialises in all breast treatments and offers high-quality patient services in Savonlinna.

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Other Available Treatments

LD-flap Reconstruction of the Breast

It is possible to reconstruct a small or medium-sized breast from skin, subcutaneous fat and muscle (the triangular Latissimus dorsi muscle) taken from the patient’s back. Blood flows into this so-called LD flap through the axillary blood vessels. The entire flap is detached so that only the blood vessels and the nerve stay connected with the armpit; then the flap is turned over onto the chest and given the shape of the patient’s own breast.

The patient’s own tissues are usually sufficient for forming the new breast. However, if the patient is slim with a thin adipose layer on her back, an implant is needed under the LD flap.

Postbariatric Surgery

Obesity is a real problem today. The best method for weight loss is a well-balanced diet combined with exercise.

If conservative treatments aren't effective, the Helena Medical Group also offers weigh-loss surgery as an option. This surgery is usually done using laparoscopy. Weight loss after the surgery is a lengthy process. Diet and exercise are still crucial for successful weight loss.

Once the weight loss has been successful, excessive tissue might well remain. This can be resolved using postbariatric surgery. The Helena Medical Group offers reconstructive surgery for solving this problem.

The treatments that are usually needed are abdominoplasty ("tummy tuck"), brachioplasty (for sagging arms) or reducing extra tissue from the thighs. All treatments need to be planned for each patient individually.

Meet Our Specialists

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Dr Helena Puonti Clinic Helena

Dr. Helena Puonti is a recognised international expert in breast cancer treatment and reconstructive microsurgery with over 30 years of experience. She has performed thousands of breast cancer operations, and more than 1,500 breast reconstruction operations, including some 500 microneurovascular transplants.

In recognition of her professional success, Helena Puonti was named the Best Oncologist of 2002 by the Finnish Society for Oncology, and in recognition of her distinction as a microsurgeon she has received an award from the Savonlinna City Council.

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