For woman battling breast cancer, the idea that you have to continue on in life without your breasts is becoming an idea of the past. In fact, some plastic surgeons are adamant that breast reconstruction should occur at the same time as a mastectomy, allowing patients to never have to face life without breasts. Dr. Robert Whitfield, a board-certified plastic surgeon from Austin, Texas, discusses the many options patients have when it comes to immediate breast reconstruction, and how it is indeed their right to have one.
By: Robert Whitfield, MD
and Adam McMillon
For woman battling breast cancer, the idea that you have to continue on in life without your breasts is becoming an idea of the past. In fact, some plastic surgeons are adamant that breast reconstruction should occur at the same time as a mastectomy, allowing patients to never have to face life without breasts. Dr. Robert Whitfield, a board certified plastic surgeon from Austin, Texas, discusses the many options patients have when it comes to immediate breast reconstruction, and how it is indeed their right to have one.
Should You Have a Breast Reconstruction?
Many woman face breast cancer and the threat of possible breast cancer every year, and often times, the removal of the breast or breast tissue to defeat the disease. Dr. Robert Whitfield and his colleagues at the Breast and Body Center of Austin strongly believe that an afflicted woman who must undergo a mastectomy (removal of the breasts) deserves a breast reconstruction during the same surgery. “It’s a patients right to have a breast reconstruction,” says Dr. Whitfield. “You can have it at the same time as your breast surgery, never having to go a day without your breasts.” Immediate breast reconstruction is often covered by insurance, and allows a patient to never have to endure the psychological trauma of a mastectomy procedure.
A Variety of Options Exist to Reconstruct Your Breasts
Not only can expert surgeons replace your breasts during the same surgery when they’re removed, but options exist for patients as to how their breasts will be reconstructed.
“The first option is to use your own tissue,” says Whitfield. “We take tissue from the lower abdomen in what’s called a DIEP Flap procedure, removing only skin and fat so that the underlying muscle is not harmed. The flap is transported to the breast, where we connect the blood vessels so that the tissue has a great blood supply. After your new breast has been created and you recover, your core strength, ability to move, pick up your children, ride a bike… nothing has changed because of what we removed from your abdomen.” Option 1 has a second version where the use of your own tissue is utilized. Surgeons remove fat via liposuction and build up a new breast with the harvested fat. Usually, this technique requires a few outpatient procedures following the main procedure, but, again, only your own tissue is used and a new breast has been created.
“The second option is to use an implant based reconstruction, whether it is with a tissue expander or a permanent silicone gel,” says Whitfield. Shaped silicone gel implants are used in order to create the overall shape of the breast, in addition to giving it volume.
“The third option is rather simple: a combination of the first two,” says Whitfield. “We can utilize fat grafting and implants in order to improve the shape and better meet patient goals.”
Whichever option you choose, the final step in the surgery involves recreating, or simply moving, the nipple and areola complex. “If we can save the nipple, immediate nipple reconstruction is done once the new breast has been constructed,” says Whitfield. “If your nipples must be removed as well, we now have great 3D nipple tattooing to complete your breasts.”
Breast Reconstruction is Your Right!
Women should no longer fear a time when their breasts might have to be taken away due to cancer. Board certified plastic surgeons are prepared to make sure a woman never has to go one minute of life without their breasts. Dr. Whitfield and his colleagues perform immediate breast reconstruction as one of the mainstays of their practice, offering their board certified expertise to help women everywhere. “Our motivation, our goal is to provide the best possible results for your breast reconstruction.”