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Breast Reconstruction: A Customized Experience

Breast Reconstruction: A Customized Experience

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or at a high risk for developing it in the future, your doctor may have had a conversation with you about breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction is a special type of surgery to rebuild the shape and look of the breast, typically after breast cancer surgery such as mastectomy.*

Deciding to have Breast Reconstruction

If you are considering reconstructive surgery, it is best to speak with your surgeon early on in your treatment to allow time to make a plan that works for you.

Alan Chen, M.D.

Among your care team, you can decide which procedure will be most appropriate for you.  According to Dr. Alan Chen, plastic/reconstructive surgeon on staff at the Silver Cross Breast Center, “It’s never too early to have a plan in place.”

The Benefits of Reconstruction

When considering breast reconstruction, there are many reasons why a woman might choose this option: to make her chest looked balanced when she’s wearing a bra or swimsuit, to permanently regain her breast shape, so she won’t have to use a breast form that fits inside the bra (an external prosthesis); or lastly to be happier with her body and how she feels about herself.

“Just as we have seen improvements in diagnosis and treatment, so too has our ability to create stable and cosmetically pleasing results been enhanced to higher and higher levels, even in very difficult circumstances,” he added.

Patients diagnosed with breast cancer are typically offered one of two methods for surgical management of the disease; mastectomy or removal of the breast, or breast conservation therapy. “The reconstructive needs of these patients is obvious as there is no breast tissue left behind thereby requiring either an implant or a transplantation of their own tissue to recreate the breast mound,” he explained.

Patients who elect to undergo breast conservation therapy are treated with the surgical removal of the portion of the breast afflicted by the cancer along with a margin of noninvolved breast tissue while leaving the remainder of the breast tissue untouched.

“But inherent to this form of treatment are a host of possible cosmetic deformities in the remaining breast tissue,” Dr. Chen added. “A new and rapidly growing field in breast reconstruction is geared at correction of these deformities either before or after they appear and is known as oncoplastics.”

In patients who have already undergone breast conservation therapy and now have deformity of their breast, surgical options are available. “The ideal method for reconstructing these patients, known as flap reconstruction, involves transferring tissue into the defect that has not been subject to the effects of radiation. The transfer of non-radiated tissue into a deformed breast is a powerful tool that can restore an aesthetically pleasing shape while improving the feel and sometimes pain associated with a severe deformity.”

About the Breast Center

In the Silver Cross Breast Center, patients can see a highly skilled surgeon for diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and other abnormalities. The Breast Center is located inside the Center for Women’s Health for smooth continuity of care and convenient access to pre and post-surgical services.

Location: New Lenox, Illinois

A team of highly skilled surgeons in the Silver Cross Breast Center have specialized training and expertise to quickly diagnose disease, explain the range of treatment options available, and help patients decide on a plan tailored to their needs and goals. This may include breast-conserving surgery, mastectomy, and breast reconstruction. These surgeons are trained to evaluate and manage patients with breast pain, benign lumps and cysts and abnormal mammograms, in addition to breast cancer.

If it’s determined that surgery is the best option, the procedure will be performed in one of the Silver Cross’ state-of-the-art operating suites followed by a short stay in a spacious, private patient room; although some patients may go home the same day.  If chemotherapy or radiation therapy is recommended, the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center at Silver Cross is nearby to the Breast Center offering the latest clinical trials, genetic testing and counselling and advanced techniques including Prone Breast Radiation Therapy.


*The federal Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires group health plans, insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs) offering mastectomy coverage to also provide coverage for all states of reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy was performed, surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance, prostheses and treatment of physical complications of the mastectomy, including lymphedema.
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