Nat’l Breast Cancer Awareness Month: October 15th Marks BRA Day

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and October 15th, 2014 marks BRA Day, or Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, celebrating raising awareness and education on post-mastectomy breast reconstruction surgery  options. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 95,589 breast reconstruction procedures were performed in 2013. With over 20 years of experience as a double-board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, I have witnessed firsthand the toll that breast cancer has on a woman.  I believe it is important to actively educate my patients about reconstruction options to help them on their journey to healing both physically and emotionally.

breast reconstruction in atlanta georgiaAfter undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy following a diagnosis, a breast cancer survivor can be overcome by a lack of self-confidence. Prior to your procedure, I will examine the skin, muscle, and residual breast tissue, and depending on the patient’s individual situation and goals, to create a personalized breast reconstruction treatment plan to provide the most natural-looking results.

If the patient doesn’t have a suitable amount of tissue, I generally insert a silicone or saline implant and tissue expanders, which are balloon-like devices inserted under the skin to progressively stretch the skin, to allow space for the breast 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. My overall goal is to exchange the patient’s breast tissue, skin, and the nipple-areolar that were removed during a mastectomy or lumpectomy and construct new breasts that look natural and fit the patient’s body accordingly. The nipple and areola can also be rebuilt with the use of cosmetic tattooing.

To further celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness, I encourage 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 or another organization of your choice. I also recommend getting involved with Life After the Fight, to help promote breast cancer survivors’ professional ventures.

If you are interested in breast reconstruction, The Sport of Giving, or Life After the Fight, contact Dr. David Whiteman today to schedule an appointment. Be sure to connect with Southern Plastic Surgery, P.C. on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for plastic surgery news and updates.

Breast Cancer Patients have New Options for Breast Reconstruction

dr david whitemanA recent article from The Sacramento Bee reported that there are now more breast reconstruction options producing natural looking results for breast cancer patients than there once was. Breast cancer takes a toll on its victims, both physically and emotionally. As the breast cancer patients in the article asked, was looking great after such a tough experience too much to ask? Breast reconstruction surgeons, like Dr. David Whiteman, don’t think so.

Cheri Person spoke out about her experience in the article discussing the thick, red scars she was left with after her double lumpectomy. She even said that she dreaded looking at herself in the mirror. Person knew something had to change, so she found a plastic surgeon to perform a mastectomy (to remove what was left of the breast tissue) and rebuild her chest with breast reconstruction.

As a double board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Whiteman works to provide his patients with the best plastic surgery results possible, and that extends to his reconstructive surgery patients as well. He has seen firsthand how natural looking breast reconstruction results can boost a survivor’s confidence and self-esteem. He has also watched the field of breast reconstruction expand.

Aside from more reconstruction options becoming available, more breast cancer patients are now pursuing breast reconstruction after cancer treatment. In fact, over 96,000 out of 250,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer received reconstruction in 2011. The article states that more women may be pursuing reconstruction than before because patients are being diagnosed at a younger age.

Dr. Whiteman performs breast reconstruction here at Southern Plastic Surgery using the patient’s skin, muscle, and fat to create new breast(s) that are proportional to the patient’s other features. Breast implants can be used in breast reconstruction to provide natural-looking volume enhancement, but if there is not an adequate amount of tissue after mastectomy, tissue expanders may be used to allow room for the breast implant. There are times when cancer only affects one breast. In these cases, Dr. Whiteman will use cosmetic breast surgery techniques like breast lift or breast reduction to ensure symmetry.

Plastic surgeons are constantly researching to find more options for breast reconstruction because they know that, like the majority of plastic surgery procedures, breast reconstruction is not one-size-fits-all. For instance, you may have heard about Suzanne Somers’ reconstruction procedure recently in the news. A bilateral lumpectomy left Somers with one breast looking deflated compared to the other. Instead of receiving a breast implant to make her breasts symmetrical, Somers opted for adipose-derived stem cell surgery. Similar to fat-grafting and fat transfer techniques, the stem cell surgery removes tissue from an area of the body to be placed in the breast. During surgery, the tissue that was removed is processed right in the operating room to boost stem cell concentration. Then, the remaining substance is injected into the breast where the stem cells eventually mature and regenerate. Although the long-term results of this new procedure have not been determined, researchers have determined that this technique is safe as long as there are no active cancer cells remaining in the breast.

Dr. Whiteman knows that breast reconstruction is all part of the healing journey and agrees with the article’s claim that women who are diagnosed with breast cancer often find a sisterhood among other women going through treatment and reconstruction. He’s even helped facilitate this camaraderie between his own patients by forming support groups, called the Buddy System, between his breast reconstruction patients and breast cancer survivors. He also founded Life after the Fight, a business listing to promote the professional ventures of breast cancer survivors.

To learn more about Dr. Whiteman’s breast reconstruction surgery techniques, the Buddy System, Life after the Fight, or if you are interested in plastic surgery, visit his website. Be sure to connect with him on Facebook and Twitter if you haven’t already for plastic and reconstruction surgery news and updates.