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Breast Reconstruction: Meeting Surgical and Psychological Needs

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"Understanding a woman's personal goals for reconstruction before breast cancer surgery is where my work begins," says William C. Franckle, MD, Virtua plastic surgeon. "Approximately 25 percent of women opt for reconstruction, which clearly provides a sense of emotional well-being, enhanced body image and physical comfort." Reconstruction can be performed at the time of the mastectomy, or later, depending on a woman's situation.

The three basic types of reconstructive procedures include a tissue-only reconstruction such as a transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap, a tissue and implant reconstruction, or an implant only procedure. Dr. Franckle notes that "since the late 1990s, the ratio of tissue reconstruction to implant-only reconstruction is about one to one."

Naturally, there are different indications, risks and benefits to each procedure. However, insofar as saline or silicone implants, Dr. Franckle says: "These devices are neither ideal nor permanent - aside from wearing out and needing replacement, they can become exposed or painfully contract. And, in women who received radiation, as many as 50 percent with implants went on to require a major revision with some type of tissue reconstruction."

"Whatever a woman and her surgeon decide upon, correcting a potential breast deformity from breast cancer surgery has emotional and physical benefits," Dr. Franckle concludes.

This Virtua Physician article was last updated: August 21, 2008