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An Empowering Choice After Mastectomy MARK A. SCHUSTERMAN, MD, FACS

Fellow of the American College of Surgeons American Society of Plastic Surgeons American Board of Plastic Surgery American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery American Board of Cosmetic Surgery Association of American Physicians and Surgeons Texas Surgical Society Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons

The thought of contracting any cancer is terrifying, but breast cancer for women is particularly difficult because it strikes at the heart of what women consider to be their feminine identity. Early detection is the key for survival and a cure, but mastectomy is still being performed when deemed necessary. Women are also taking preventative measures by opting to have single or double mastectomies if genetic testing determines that they carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. In their normal states these genes suppress tumors, but if they mutate there is a significant risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer.

Previous generations of women were literally butchered by surgeons who performed radical mastectomies as a matter of course. Medical and surgical advances have dramatically improved the procedure, but losing a breast, no matter how skillfully removed is traumatic and at least initially, a blow to how a woman esteems herself. It is not uncommon for a woman to consider herself damaged goods after a mastectomy. This can pass with time, although difficult to overcome when the mirror provides a daily reminder.

The surgical advances in breast reconstruction Houston now offer women a proactive choice of post mastectomy treatment. In some cases reconstruction can take place at the time of the mastectomy which stems the emotional pain of viewing the aftermath of breast removal. Immediate reconstruction is preferable also because it eliminates the need for another surgical procedure. However, where delayed reconstruction is either chosen or necessary, the procedure can be as effective as if performed immediately. This is especially true for women who had mastectomies prior to the possibilities for reconstruction and want to take advantage of what is now available.

Plastic surgeons who understand the physical and emotional trauma of mastectomy have worked to develop and hone the skills and techniques employed in breast reconstruction. Tissue flaps and breast implants are the two reconstruction options currently available. The tissue flap is muscle and fat that is relocated to the breast from the back or abdomen. Reconstruction of the nipple can also be performed but not until 3 or 4 months after the initial surgery to allow for sufficient healing.

Breast implants Houston require dual procedures. At the time of surgery an inflatable expander with an external tube and valve is placed behind the chest muscle. Over time, saline will be introduced through the expander in order to ready the area for inserting a permanent implant in a 2nd surgical procedure. A comprehensive discussion of the options available to a specific case is always warranted. Most often breast reconstruction is covered by health insurance but a thorough investigation into the exact coverage provided is recommended.

Choice is inextricably intertwined with self-esteem. So often, the lack of choice for a woman, whether real or imagined, batters the sense of self.  The ramification of all abuse, no matter how it is manifested or who it is perpetrated upon, is the belief that there is no other choice. Empowerment comes from not only believing there is choice, but with taking action as well. Choice in all matters is a human right.

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The Houston plastic surgeons at The Museum District Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center are leaders in microsurgical techniques in the aid of head, neck and Houston breast cancer patients. Their world renowned founder was the first to introduce the TRAM flap breast reconstruction surgery to the Houston area. Additional information may be obtained at AlwaysYouthful.com.

Contact us today to schedule your appointment with the renowned plastic surgeon and breast & body specialist Dr. Mark Schusterman. Take your first steps to a more beautiful you.

1200 Binz St Suite 1198, Houston, TX 77004