October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and to help raise funds for research into its cure. Approximately one in eight women born in the United States today will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, making it the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among women, apart from skin cancer. Fortunately, many women can survive breast cancer if it’s detected and treated early, and as one of Southeast’s premier cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery centers, Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. has long been on the forefront in the development of breast reconstruction techniques and technology. For nearly 50 years, we have helped thousands of women who have undergone a mastectomy for the treatment of breast cancer with breast reconstructive surgery, a procedure designed to construct a natural looking breast that mirrors the form and appearance of the original. In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are answers to three of the most commonly asked questions about breast reconstruction.
Am I a candidate for breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction surgery is designed to help women who have undergone a procedure for the removal of breast cancer, like mastectomy or lumpectomy or those who have such breast cancer treatment scheduled in the future. Although a highly individualized procedure, patients are often most satisfied with their breast reconstruction results when they do not have additional medical conditions or other illnesses that may impair healing, have a positive outlook, and have realistic goals for restoring the breast and body image. In order to determine this, it is best to schedule a personal consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in breast reconstruction.
When can I have breast reconstruction?
Depending on the specific type of procedure and variables involved, breast reconstruction may be done in stages, all at once, immediately following cancer removal, or even years later in life at the patient’s and surgeon’s discretion. Most commonly, the reconstruction procedure is undergone immediately after the mastectomy in a process known as oncoplastic surgery; however a woman may also opt for delayed reconstruction months or years later, especially if radiation of the chest is needed as part of the cancer treatment. Even in cases where women underwent mastectomy years ago but were not made aware of their options reconstruction can still be pursued as long as doing so doesn’t interfere with cancer treatment.
What are my breast reconstruction options?
Every patient’s case in unique, and so there are a variety of different options available for breast reconstruction surgery. In many cases, excellent results can be achieved through the insertion of a silicone or saline breast implant, and if there is too little remaining breast tissue for a breast implant to fit, a tissue expander can be used to make room for it. More natural breast reconstruction can also be accomplished with either a TRAM flap (transverse rectus abdominis muscle) or DIEP flap (deep inferior epigastric perforator) procedure. These approaches use tissue from the patient’s abdomen or back, respectively, along with excess fat to recreate a natural looking breast mound without the need for an artificial implant. Once the breast has been rebuilt, the nipple and areola is also reconstructed using tissue from another area of the patient’s body.
With so many options available to women, it is important to consult with one of our experienced, board certified plastic surgeons when determining the best reconstruction option for your individual needs. If you are interested in learning more about any of the plastic surgery procedures we perform, or about how the variety of financing options, including Alphaeon® and CareCredit®, that we provide can help you, please contact us at one of our Atlanta, Alpharetta, Cumming, or Newnan offices. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest news in plastic surgery.