Frequently Asked Questions for Breast ReconstructionNovember 19, 2020
As we close out Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have gathered our frequently asked questions regarding breast reconstruction for Dr. Israeli to answer.
What is breast reconstruction and what kind of procedures are there?
Medically speaking, breast reconstruction is defined as a surgical procedure that restores the shape of the breast after a mastectomy. Masectomies are surgeries that remove the breast or part of the breast to treat or prevent cancer.
There are a variety of breast reconstruction procedures available to patients. However, they can be summarized into three categories: Natural Tissue Flap Reconstruction, Breast Implants, or a combination.
Natural Tissue Flap Reconstruction is an advanced minimally invasive procedure that uses your own body tissue and fat to restore the shape of the breast. Each of the doctors in our practice is a highly experienced microsurgeon, making this type of reconstruction possible.
Breast implants are typically filled with either saline or silicone.
We work with each of our patients in the very first consultation to understand their goals and discuss risks and benefits. Every patient and their circumstance is different.
Does breast reconstruction cause cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, there is research available showing that breast reconstruction does not cause cancer or increase the chance for cancer recurrence.
There is some additional evidence that immediate breast reconstruction with flaps after mastectomy shows an absence of cancer relapse.
However, textured breast implants have been linked to a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). This stands for breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma.
This is not a type of breast cancer but is a cancer of the lymphatic system that develops around the breast implants with scar tissue and fluid. Symptoms include swelling or pain in the breast. If you are experiencing swelling or pain in your breast, please contact your doctor for an evaluation. You can read more information about BIA-ALCL here.
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, it is crucial we take the steps to ensure overall breast health which includes annual screenings and self-checks.
What do you tell patients who have just received a breast cancer diagnosis?
The number one thing to remember is that you are not alone. You are more than your diagnosis. You have a team of medical specialists ready and able to help you at every stage of your journey. While plastic surgery is not typically considered a part of the cancer treatment team, we work with your team to develop a plan/ timeline for reconstruction tailored for each patient.
Our mission is to treat the whole patient including mental and emotional health.
Our Patient Empowerment Program is clinically designed for patients and families to balance the mind and body and emotional elements of recovery. The program begins as soon as those patients enter the practice and continues throughout their journey. We have many former patients that are still connected to us through this program and serve as advocates in our Patient to Patient Caring Team for new patients experiencing similar journeys.
Is Breast Reconstruction Right For Me?
Breast reconstruction is a personal choice. There are plenty of women who have chosen Aesthetic Flat Closures or no breast reconstruction at all.
In figuring out your personal opinion on the matter, the most important question you need to ask yourself is, “What are your reconstruction goals? What would I want out of a reconstruction?”
Answers can be anything from achieving symmetry, matching your other breast, enlarging or reducing size of the breast from before cancer. Your aesthetic goals should include anything that you desire. Even if your goals seem unrealistic; your surgeon can go over what is achievable and what is not.
We know you have done your research with your friends, family, and online searches. You should also prepare a list of questions to bring to your consultations with your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon.
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