Breast cancer diagnosis is a life-altering experience for women. The possibility of losing a breast and its potential impact on body image can be overwhelming. As October marks Breast Awareness Month, it’s essential to raise awareness about the challenges faced by women diagnosed with breast cancer and the hope that breast reconstruction treatments provide. In Tampa, The Julian Institute of Plastic Surgery offers a range of breast reconstruction options to help women regain their self-confidence and embrace life after cancer.
The Emotional Journey of Breast Cancer
For many women, body image plays a significant role in their identity and overall well-being. The shock of a breast cancer diagnosis brings about sudden decisions and considerations of body-altering procedures. The paramount decision is to ensure the complete removal of cancer and the use of necessary treatment modalities.
However, thanks to early diagnosis and prompt treatment, the disease-free survival rate has significantly improved. This has opened the door to various breast reconstruction centers in Tampa, helping to reduce anxiety and mitigate the traditional negative impact on body image that breast cancer poses.
The Right Surgery for You
When you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s crucial to start thinking about reconstructive surgery. Your journey begins with a comprehensive consultation, where a discussion about the type and extent of your diagnosis will take place. These factors will guide the recommendations of the breast surgeon and, potentially, the oncologist.
Depending on your unique situation, the recommended treatments may range from lumpectomy to mastectomy. Some patients may opt for prophylactic mastectomy. In many cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are suggested, either before or after surgery. All of this information is gathered and discussed with you to formulate a personalized reconstruction plan.
Exploring Breast Reconstruction Options
There are two main categories of breast reconstruction procedures: tissue expansion with implants and flap reconstruction.
1. Tissue Expansion with Implant Reconstruction
This is the most common procedure. Expanders are placed under the chest muscle and skin, often done at the same time as mastectomy. Over several weeks, these expanders are gradually filled with water to stretch the skin and muscle. Once this process is complete, the expanders are exchanged for soft silicone implants. The technique used can significantly impact the results, and at The Julian Institute of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Polecritti employs cutting-edge techniques, including the use of a dermal matrix sling for more natural results.
2. Flap Reconstruction
This technique uses tissues from other parts of your body to create a flap. Common donor sites include the back, abdomen, or buttocks. Flap reconstruction can be pedicle-flap or free-flap, depending on the complexity and duration of the procedure. In some cases, an implant may be used in conjunction with the flap to achieve the desired size. Flap reconstruction is especially valuable when radiation treatment has damaged tissue or when there isn’t enough skin to stretch with an expander. Common flaps used include the latissimus flap, TRAM flap, and DIEP flap. Dr. Polecritti will discuss the best reconstructive option for your specific case during your consultation.
A common concern among patients is whether the reconstructed breast will match the non-operated one. Each patient’s disease and treatment process is unique, making predicting how every patient will heal challenging. However, most patients are satisfied with the reconstruction results and feel comfortable in feminine clothing. In some cases, the non-operated breast may have issues such as sagging or excessive size. In such instances, an option is to perform a lift or reduction on the non-operated breast to create better symmetry with the reconstructed side.
How Many Surgeries Will I Need?
The number of breast reconstruction surgeries needed varies depending on several factors during your treatment.
For expander/implant reconstruction:
- One surgery to place the expander is often performed simultaneously with mastectomy.
- A second smaller surgery several months later to remove the expander and place the implant.
- An optional third surgery for nipple reconstruction is often performed in the office.
For flap reconstruction:
- The initial flap insertion is done at the same time as mastectomy.
- If expanders are not used, the only other procedure offered is nipple reconstruction after the breast heals.
However, differences in healing, scarring, and mal-position can occur, necessitating minor surgical corrections. These corrections may add to the total number of procedures needed to achieve an ideal result.
Supporting Your Journey Through Breast Reconstruction Surgery
Breast reconstruction surgery is not just a medical procedure; it’s a profoundly emotional and personal journey. Understanding the physical and emotional impact of a breast cancer diagnosis, The Julian Institute of Plastic Surgery in Tampa is committed to supporting you every step of the way. Let’s explore the essential aspects of this support system:
- Compassionate Consultations: Your journey begins with a compassionate and informative consultation. At The Julian Institute of Plastic Surgery, we understand that every patient’s situation is unique. During your consultation, we will take the time to discuss the type and extent of your breast cancer diagnosis.
- Expert Guidance: Our dedicated team, led by Dr. Derek Polecritti and Dr. Marc Polecritti, will provide expert guidance throughout the entire process. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the various breast reconstruction options available, including tissue expansion with implants and flap reconstruction.
- Emotional Support: Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment can be emotionally overwhelming. We understand the anxiety and uncertainty you may be experiencing. Our team is not only committed to your physical well-being but also to providing emotional support.
Recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month at The Julian Institute of Plastic Surgery
Breast cancer is a challenging journey, but advancements in medical science and plastic surgery offer hope and opportunities for women to regain their sense of self. Breast Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of early detection, support, and awareness for those affected by breast cancer.
The Julian Institute of Plastic Surgery in Tampa is at the forefront of providing comprehensive breast reconstruction treatments. Dr. Polecritti and his team offer expert guidance and cutting-edge techniques to help women regain their confidence and embrace life after breast cancer.
If you or a loved one is facing breast cancer, remember that there are options for breast reconstruction. The decision is deeply personal, and the skilled professionals at The Julian Institute of Plastic Surgery are here to support you on your journey toward healing, recovery and renewed self-confidence.