Breast reconstruction without implants

Usually, women who’ve had to undergo mastectomies have limited choices on their reconstruction options. But that is changing.

“It’s funny because people do come into the office and say, ‘Oh I wish I could just take this and put it up here and I tell them, as a matter of fact, you can,” Dr. Patricia Clark said.

Clark works at the Ironwood Cancer Center. She said more women are choosing to use their body’s natural tissue to replace their breasts.

Vickie Aguilar had the procedure done last year.

“I like the idea of everything being taken out and still having natural breasts, and going from there,” she said.

Aguilar was diagnosed with breast cancer last spring.

Eight weeks later, she was cancer free and feeling great.

“Sometimes I feel like it was a dream, because I knew I had cancer and I have scars to show me what I went through but literally it was two months from diagnosis to surgery, and then finding out I was cancer free,” Aguilar said.

Clark says more women are opting for their natural tissue over implants even if they’re having the surgery as a precaution.

“People who have a BRCA mutation like Angelina Jolie had, we do it for them, and those women will often look like they just had a cosmetic breast lift,” Clark said.

If you have a little extra in other places, that’s OK too.

“We can take the abdominal skin and fat, then we can take the inner thigh,” Clark said. “If there’s a little extra on the bottom we can take that and then you can build up to a size that you want.”

A couple things to keep in mind: One of the things that are really unique about this surgery is doctors are able to preserve the nerves in the tissue. Because of that, the surgery can take up to eight hours or more.

But the recovery is fast, just a two-day hospital stay and minimal pain because the cuts aren’t deep.

Only really thin women aren’t good candidates because there isn’t a lot of fat to use in the reconstruction.

 

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