Oftentimes, women don’t realize (or aren’t told by their doctor) that breast reconstruction is available to them after mastectomy. The inventor, and doctor, behind InviCible Scars is Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo, who specializes in state-of-the-art breast reconstruction and cosmetic surgery at PRMA Center for Advanced Breast Reconstruction in San Antonio, Texas.
“Dr. C” was named one of “America’s Top Surgeons” and was also a recipient of the San Antonio Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under Forty” Award (2007). Dr C is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and is also an active member in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, the Plastic Surgery Education Foundation, the San Antonio International Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the Texas Medical Society.
He answered some questions regarding breast reconstruction that we hope you find helpful:
1. What is the most common reason you see women in your practice for breast reconstruction?
– Women recently diagnosed with breast cancer and facing mastectomy
– Women at high risk of breast cancer (eg BRCA+, strong family history) and considering prophylactic mastectomy
– Women that have already completed their breast cancer treatment including lumpectomy or mastectomy, who are now seeking reconstruction or improved breast symmetry.
2. What are some options for breast reconstruction if the patient has had a mastectomy?
There are various options that fall under 2 main types of procedures: those that use the patient’s own tissue to recreate a “natural” breast, or breast implants.
3. Can women expect that their new breasts will look, feel and have the same sensations as before?
That really does depend on the individual situation. If the reconstruction is performed at the same time as the mastectomy, the results can be very good indeed: excellent cosmetic results (some women feel “even better than before” in terms of appearance), and very natural. Reconstructions using the patient’s own tissue tend to create much more natural results than breast implants. Breast implants can also provide very nice results in good candidates.
Delayed reconstruction (reconstruction performed some time after the mastectomy) can also provide very good results, but generally not as good in terms of the final cosmetic result because it usually leaves more scarring.
Unfortunately, it is rare for women to maintain the same level of feeling in their breasts after reconstruction. It is possible for some patients to maintain or regain some feeling but it is typically nowhere near what Mother Nature provided. Some patients are candidates for sensory nerve reconstruction in conjunction with DIEP flap or SIEA flap reconstruction. This reconnects nerves that supply feeling to the breast and allows for improved long term sensation in the reconstructed breast. However, even if this nerve reconstruction is successful, it’s rare for women to regain the sensation they had before the mastectomy.
4. Are there risks associated with breast reconstruction?
Yes, but thankfully complications are uncommon. Unfortunately all surgery has risks. The main risk is that the reconstruction doesn’t work which can lead to more surgery.
5. Will there be extensive scarring?
This depends on the procedure the patient chooses. Most procedures that involve using the patient’s own tissue involve scarring on a part of the body other than the breasts (i.e. where the tissue came from.) For example the DIEP flap, today’s gold standard in breast reconstruction, uses the patient’s own abdominal skin and fat to reconstruct a natural, warm, soft breast. The excess lower tummy skin and fat are removed similar to a “tummy tuck”. This provides the patient with the added benefit of a tummy tuck, but also creates additional scarring over the lower abdomen.
These breast reconstruction before and after pictures show the typical scars associated with the procedures performed at PRMA.
Do you have further questions about breast reconstruction that weren’t answered in this post? Leave a comment and Dr. Chrysopoulo will be happy to answer them.
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