Increasing Knowledge during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Many of us recognize the month of October as the first full month of fall, one that lets us wear costumes or perhaps simply the precursor to Thanksgiving.  For me and many others though, October is the month of pink ribbons and raising awareness for something that affects millions of lives directly and indirectly – breast cancer.  Just the name alone carries such magnitude in meaning and the effects breast cancer has on our loved ones are something I have witnessed firsthand.  As a double board certified plastic surgeon, I have grown extremely passionate about breast reconstruction and educating patients on their options because many women simply aren’t aware of all of the potentially life changing opportunities that exist.

Think about these survey results conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons for a second:

  • Less than 23% of women know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.
  • Only 22% of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.
  • Only 19% of women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts their options and results.
  • 89% of women want to see breast reconstruction results before undergoing cancer treatment.

For some of my breast reconstruction patients, wanting to restore their breasts is something they choose to regain self-confidence or reduce the physical reminders of undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy following a diagnosis.  In the end however, breast reconstruction is a choice and a very personal choice at that.  To reduce the staggering percentage of women who are unfamiliar with post-cancer treatment options, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day (also known as BRA Day) was started as an initiative to promote education, awareness and access for women who may be considering breast reconstruction.  BRA Day has always promoted a team approach to breast cancer because it’s important to have every vital component of a patient’s breast cancer treatment working together to improve a patient’s outcome and quality of life.

This year, BRA Day will be celebrated on October 21 and will be a day devoted to sharing, learning and helping.  Nationwide events will give women a chance to hear from local plastic surgeons about breast reconstruction options, meet with specialists and other cancer survivors, plus a “Show & Tell” initiative where women can actually see what breast reconstruction results helped other former breast cancer patients achieve.  It’s great to see cities across the United States embracing BRA Day and sending a  powerful message to women to not only be proactive in educating themselves on their options but to be open and encouraging of other women who are facing a breast cancer journey of their own.

My passion for breast cancer fuels my deep connection with performing breast reconstruction because survivors have gone through an experience that is unlike anything many of us will ever experience.  The outlook on life that many of my patients exhibit is encouraging beyond words as many them exhibit strength in the face of adversity  but come out stronger and genuinely wanting to live life to its fullest.  Each of these women and men I have met truly inspired me to create Life After the Fight, an interactive business directory for breast cancer survivors who started their own businesses after their breast cancer journey.  Life After the Fight connects breast cancer survivors and their businesses with other professionals to promote their entrepreneurial endeavors to local patrons.  Not only can we support local businesses, but we can support the survivors that have carried on after their fight.

When a patient chooses me to be a part of their breast cancer journey, it is truly humbling and always an honor for me.  All it takes is a conversation to start learning more about breast reconstruction options and how it can improve a patient’s life.  Our door is always open and we would love to help you get started on your breast reconstruction journey when you feel the time is right.  Don’t hesitate to contact Southern Plastic Surgery with any questions you may have and remember – don’t give up the fight, you can do it!

Building Awareness and Education for Breast Reconstruction Options

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and October 16th marked BRA Day, or Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, celebrating raising awareness and education on post-mastectomy breast reconstruction options. Studies published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) show that less than 23 percent of women know the wide range of options available to them. As a double board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with over 20 years of experience, Dr. David Whiteman understands the effects of breast cancer and actively educates his patients about reconstruction options to help them on their journey to healing.

Atlanta Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day 2012Breast reconstruction can be performed immediately after a mastectomy or lumpectomy or delayed until all cancer treatment is completed or when the patient is ready. During consultation, Dr. Whiteman examines the remaining breast tissue, skin, and muscles to determine proper treatment plans to achieve natural-looking results for each patient. A breast reconstruction treatment plan is unique to the patient’s individual situation, condition, and aesthetic goals so Dr. Whiteman ensures to discuss all options and procedural steps. Cosmetic breast procedures such as breast lift or a breast augmentation if only one breast is affected can also be performed to improve symmetry.

Depending on the amount of healthy breast tissue remaining, Dr. Whiteman may use a breast implant to restore volume and shape. If there is not enough tissue to support an implant, a tissue expander can be used to make room for an implant. Another option is flap reconstruction which includes harvesting healthy tissue, skin, muscle, and fat from another area of the body to rebuild the breast mound. The nipple and areola can also be rebuilt through cosmetic tattooing.

To further celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness, Dr. Whiteman encourages you to get involved with The Sport of Giving, a 501(c)(3) grassroots organization supporting women’s cancer care and prevention with special fundraiser events. Dr. Whiteman has also founded Life After the Fight, a business listing to promote professional aspirations of breast cancer survivors.

To learn more about Dr. Whiteman’s breast reconstruction techniques, The Sport of Giving, Life After the Fight, or if you are interested in plastic surgery, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Be sure to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for plastic surgery news and updates.