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In many of my blogs about breast cancer treatment options, I have emphasized the importance of patient-based, doctor-guided decision-making. This video, from Beth Israel Medical Center, nicely illustrates the many options of breast reconstruction surgery for breast cancer patients. It tells the story of diverse opinions through a number of patients and why they chose a particular form of reconstructive surgery. Dr Mark Smith is the reconstructive surgeon. Please note that this video shows some graphic operating room scenes.
Here’s more information from our companion website, patientresource.net:
Breast reconstructive surgery is done by an experienced plastic surgeon. This surgery is usually done at the time of total mastectomy or later (within months after mastectomy).
Immediate reconstruction can be done for early-stage (stage I or some stage II) breast cnacers, but it is usually best to wait for reconstruction if the breast cancer is more advanced (stage III or some stage II). Increasingly, a “skin-sparing mastectomy” and temporary breast implants are used as the initial process of breast reconstructive surgery, with the final stages of reconstruction performed after all the cancer treatments are completed. If you are to have a mastectomy and think you will want reconstructive surgery, it is best to discuss your choice with your cancer surgeon and a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy so they can properly plan your treatment, even if the reconstructive surgery will not be done until later.
Reconstructive surgery cannot be done for all types of breast cancer. Women who do not want or cannot have reconstructive surgery can be fitted with a breast prosthesis. This prosthesis is a breast form (made of artificial materials) that you put in your bra to make your breast look natural and balanced.