For a woman facing a mastectomy, where breast tissue is removed to treat or prevent breast cancer, the emotional effects waking up from surgery can be devastating. Not only is her body drastically changed, she may face a number of reconstructive surgeries down the road.
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Today the new single-stage breast reconstruction can take away much of that trauma by getting both breast removal and reconstruction done at one time, in a single surgery.
At 54, Polly Irwin had a double mastectomy as a preventive procedure because she was at a high risk for breast cancer. Yet with single-stage breast reconstruction she woke up and felt like she still had her body intact.
How single-stage breast reconstruction works
Surgeons determine breast dimensions and appropriate implant size through the use of special imaging technology. Material made from human tissue is used to support the implant, so there’s no need for tissue expanders and a second surgery.
Cleveland Clinic plastic surgeon Risal Djohan, MD, says he’s found patients who opt for immediate breast reconstruction seem to have a better recovery emotionally and socially.
Irwin, who was back to work six weeks after the surgery, is certainly happy with the results.
“You wouldn’t even know by looking that anything had changed,” she says. “Now I have peace of mind.”