By Denise Freese
After a breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment, which often includes a single or double mastectomy (removal of the breast), many breast cancer patients opt to have reconstructive surgery. Typically, about 1/3 of patients are able to have their own tissue used to recreate their breasts, and about 2/3 receive breast implants. The majority of implants used today are made of a silicone gel composite that won’t leak if ruptured.
Until fairly recently, surgeons would insert a tissue expanding device under the patient’s chest wall muscles during a mastectomy. Additional subsequent visits would be required by the patient, where the expander would be opened a little bit each time to prepare the breast pocket for the eventual placement of an implant. The final operation would include the addition of the permanent implant, along with nipple reconstruction. The entire process would have taken several months.
A new procedure developed within the last 2-3 years offers patients a one-stage reconstruction, according to Dr. Robert Paresi, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. “We can now put in the permanent implant during the mastectomy,” said Dr. Paresi. “This saves the patient from undergoing the expander procedure and making all the follow-up visits. It saves a lot of time, since the patient actually wakes up from the operation with breasts. This also gives a psychological boost to the patient, as they don’t ever have to be without breasts.”
This type of reconstruction is made possible with the use of Alloderm, a specially preserved and processed cadaverous skin that creates a breast implant pocket in the appropriate spot. Skin-sparing mastectomies are also becoming more commonplace, where the skin is saved while the tissue is removed. For more information about new breast implant procedures for breast cancer patients, please contact: