Breast reconstruction–either in conjunction with or following breast cancer treatment– can be a challenging time. For many women, breast reconstruction is a critical step in moving on from their illness from an emotional perspective as well addressing concerns over physical appearance.
When breast cancer patients are provided with high-caliber, coordinated care throughout their diagnosis, treatment, and reconstruction, research indicates they can have an optimal experience with better breast reconstruction results.
A Comprehensive Approach
Taking a comprehensive approach to breast cancer treatment typically means involving a surgical oncologist and a plastic or reconstructive surgeon, along with other medical professionals who function together as a team in a coordinated effort to holistically address medical and cosmetic issues.
Many of my breast reconstruction patients believe that a lumpectomy or mastectomy would leave their breasts permanently indented or deformed. However, the patient, surgeon, and oncologist can work together to determine the best approach for reconstruction with an eye toward beautiful cosmetic results while maintaining an emphasis on health.
Women who undergo a mastectomy can choose to have immediate or delayed reconstruction. In the case of a lumpectomy, oncology surgeon and reconstructive breast surgeon can work together to preserve the breast whenever possible without compromising on aggressive cancer removal.
Connecting cancer treatment with the reconstruction process ensures that women are given the best and most recent information and options available. The goal is to provide patients with a thorough cancer removal without sacrificing high quality cosmetic results.
The Value of Oncoplastic Surgery
Oncoplastic surgery is a modern approach to cancer treatment in which the cancer removal and breast reconstruction occur simultaneously in a procedure performed by a single oncoplastic surgeon. This conservative technique involves preserving as much natural breast tissue as possible while still excising the tumor fully for minimal risk of cancer recurrence. By first excising the tumor from the breast, I can then reshape the remaining breast tissue in a way that restores organic breast contours, along with preserving the nipple, whenever possible, for natural-looking results.
In my practice, I explain the benefits of oncoplastic surgery to women who are good candidates for the procedure, so they understand that both their health and appearance can remain top priorities. Oncoplastic reconstruction techniques can provide women with the option to keep their existing breasts, often bypassing the need for implants entirely. Oncoplastic surgery can also negate the need for weeks of radiation treatments (normally required after a lumpectomy) with an immediate, single dose radiation treatment given at the same time as the oncoplastic procedure.
The Benefits of Coordinating Treatments
Whether patients are undergoing a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or oncoplastic surgery, coordinating care from an oncologist, reconstructive or plastic surgeon, and a team of cancer treatment specialists can help ensure that the end results are optimal from both a health and a cosmetic perspective.
One of the main benefits of coordinated breast cancer and reconstruction treatments is that all parties—patient and doctors alike—gain a more comprehensive understanding of the medical and cosmetic needs at hand, while patients also may feel less anxiety surrounding their treatment(s) when doctors are working together. With access to committed care in every aspect of their treatment, patients can focus on their recovery, results and on moving forward.