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The Bend Magazine

Be Your Own Breast Friend

By: Corpus Christi Institute of Plastic Surgery 

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. Did you know that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime? No one knows the exact cause of Breast Cancer but what we do know it is caused by damage to a cell’s DNA. We also know that women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. Having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will get breast cancer. Many women who have risk factors never develop breast cancer.

While you can’t prevent cancer, it is important to be proactive about your health. Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic not all lumps are cancerous. Call your doctor whenever you have concerns. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt. Lumps or specks can be caused by cancer, fatty cells, or other conditions like cysts. Further tests are needed to find out if abnormal cells are present.

Women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years. Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.

What is Breast Reconstruction?

Women who have had surgery like a Mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment have the option to choose breast reconstruction surgery. The breast reconstruction itself consists of multiple operations, the first of which involves the creation of the breast mound and is performed during or after the mastectomy in a hospital and under general anesthesia. Later surgeries, if necessary, may be done in the hospital or an outpatient facility, with either general or local anesthesia.

The breast reconstruction can be performed immediately after the mastectomy in many cases to get the best results. In certain cases, delaying the breast reconstruction may be the best option. A consultation with one of our plastic surgeons, who will review your medical history after a detailed examination, will allow us to advise you best on the recommended treatment.

How does it work? 

A commonly used reconstructive technique combines skin expansion with implant insertion. First, the surgeon inserts a balloon expander beneath the skin and chest muscle. In the office, a saline (salt water) solution is injected into the expander, stretching the skin until the breast mound reaches the desired size. The expander is then replaced with a permanent implant. A final procedure reconstructs the nipple and areola (the dark area of skin around the nipple). In very rare situations, a patient may not require tissue expansion but will begin with the implant.

Another, type of breast implant reconstruction involves the creation of a breast using tissue from other parts of the body. The tissue that is transferred consists of skin, fat and occasionally muscle from the back, abdomen or thigh. 

Breast reconstruction surgery is performed to restore a natural, symmetrical appearance to the breast; maintain body proportion; allows clothes to fit better and, most important of all, boosts self-confidence for women who have lost one or both breasts to mastectomy or who lack breasts due to a congenital or developmental abnormality. Our surgeons strive to create a new breast and nipple that resemble the woman’s natural breast as closely as possible in shape, size and position. The unaffected breast is also reshaped to give it a more youthful look with improved symmetry.