Summer Surgery Tips and Suggestions from Nurse Chris

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Chris in Ireland

Our nurse, Chris Murakami, just returned from a wonderful vacation in Ireland and wanted to share some tips about sun and surgery with our readers!

Planning surgery during the summer months?

Here are some things to remember during vacations, trips to the beach, boating, or simply working in the yard.

It is very important to avoid becoming sunburned before surgery. It is quite possible you could be asked to postpone your surgery depending on the nature of the procedure and the degree of sunburn.  Many of our patients put a great deal of research and planning into scheduling surgery.  Making travel plans, arranging time off of work, and obtaining care givers is no easy task!  We’re here to help you keep your surgery plan on track.

Avoiding sun exposure immediately after surgery is equally important.  You are more likely to burn during that time period especially in areas that blood flow has been disrupted. Keep in mind your sensitivity to heat can be diminished so you might not realize that you are getting burned.

Submerging your body in standing water should not be done until all incisions are completely healed.  This typically takes as long as three to four weeks, but be sure that there is no open or draining area nor any remaining sutures before considering that summer swim.   There are micro-organisms out there that can cause infections and your intact skin normally provides a natural barrier.   You should always avoid the ocean, lakes, rivers, pools, hot tubs etc. whenever you have open wounds – surgical or traumatic.

As far as long term care, try to avoid sun exposure to both your incision lines and any bruised areas. The sun can turn your scars and skin dark if they are exposed before they completely heal or mature. This process typically takes about a year to happen for the surgical scar.  A good guideline is to wait until the scar is no longer pink before considering sun exposure.

Having surgery does not mean that you can’t enjoy the remainder of your summer!   Just be prepared. Stay in the shade as much as possible.  Hats, umbrellas, and sunblock are a must during pre and post-surgical weeks.  And remember, when you are out in the sun and heat, always stay well hydrated! – Have a great Summer! – Chris

Do you have a summer surgery tip to share with our readers?

Our Favorite Komen Lowcountry Events

 

We at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction are committed to our amazing patients and the organizations that support them. That’s why you can find us helping out at any number of the Komen Lowcountry events held in Charleston, SC.

We support Komen Lowcountry because the foundation creates a support system for women diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones.

Not only do these Lowcountry events raise money and awareness for the cause, but participants also have fun while supporting research and treatment initiatives.

No matter if you’re a Charleston native or you’re planning a trip to the Lowcountry, we hope you’ll attend some of the upcoming breast cancer fundraising events.

Before we give you the skinny on local fundraising opportunities, we want to remind you of the health care resources you have—before and after breast cancer.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed yourself, or you’ve beaten breast cancer, our breast reconstruction services exist to help you recover, gain confidence, and tackle your survivorship with renewed purpose.

We invite you to drop by our office for a consultation on natural breast reconstruction, or you can even ask one of our surgeons any questions you have right here.

Why we support Komen Lowcountry

When you lend your time, money, and support, you are backing a group that is dedicated to….

  • Developing new approaches to prevention, so that fewer women experience breast cancer.
  • Identifying and improving methods of early breast cancer detection, so that patients can receive proactive treatment and become a survivor.
  • Ensuring more accurate diagnoses, so that women can make the ideal health care decisions for themselves and their families.
  • Creating personalized treatments based on genetic makeup and individual needs, so that no one receives “cookie cutter” care.

The following three events are the Komen event staples in Charleston, but keep checking back, so you can see what’s new.

Race for the Cure®

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® Series has an amazing claim to fame. It is the largest and most profitable fundraising and education event for breast cancer in the world today.

When you come out, you will help provide awareness and much-needed funds that benefit breast cancer patients and survivors in the Charleston community.

You don’t have to run in the race! You don’t even have to walk. Giving volunteer time and/or financial support will help save lives.

Click here for more information on The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® Series.

Swing for the Cure

Susan G. Komen Lowcountry’s Swing for the Cure is another fun Charleston event that supports the fight against breast cancer.  Participants play either tennis or golf to raise money for research, prevention, and treatment.

There is a cocktail reception and a silent auction, alongside an oyster roast and barbecue.

Tickets are set at $30 per individual and $50 per couple, and proceeds benefit research and prevention efforts.  You do have to register for Swing for the Cure in order to attend, and you must purchase tickets!

Snag your tickets for Swing for the Cure here.

Worship in Pink

 In May 2016, Worship in Pink happens in honor of our mothers—especially those who have been through breast cancer. Over the years, Worship in Pink has provided more than 60,000 people with resources. As a faith-based initiative, this program helps reduce disparities in rural and low-income areas.

Come out this May and help work toward the vision of a world without breast cancer.

Click here for more information.

Community Health Workshops

Susan G. Komen’s Community Health Workshops exist to educate Charleston residents and visitors on establishing a healthy lifestyle, breast health, and techniques for stronger survivorship.

Keep an eye on this page for updates on the next workshop.

Tell us what we missed! Share your favorite fundraising events in the comments below.

How to Find the Perfect Breast Cancer Support Group

 

Breast cancer support is a crucial element of the healing process. There are so many factors to think about with physical recuperation that people often forget that the emotional element is huge.

A breast cancer survivor’s body needs to heal, but so must her heart. For this reason, the surgeons and staff at the Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction recommend attending local breast cancer support groups.

While our surgeons and staff are here to lend an ear, answer questions, and alleviate concerns, a breast cancer support group provides you with an extra morale boost.

No matter what stage you’re in—whether you’ve recently received the news or you’ve beaten cancer all together—the cancer journey can be a lifelong experience.

And the Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction is prepared to stand by your side and help you emerge victorious.

We’ve listed a few Charleston-area breast cancer support groups below, but it’s important to first think about your unique needs. Some factors to consider are whether or not…

  • You’ve had surgery already.
  • You’ve not made all the health care decisions you need to.
  • You need spiritual or religious guidance.
  • You have beaten breast cancer or you’re still fighting.

All of these factors have a bearing on the breast cancer support system you choose. Our main criterion at the Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction is that support groups cater to your emotional needs as well as your education.

If you have any questions about breast cancer support, please don’t hesitate to call our office at 1-866-374-2627 or ask our surgeons your questions here.

See below for a few breast cancer support groups located in Charleston.

S.A.S.S.Y. Breast Cancer Support Group

Located at the John Wesley United Methodist Church, the S.A.S.S.Y. breast cancer support group caters especially to young women under the age of 45. In addition to the support group itself, S.A.S.S.Y. also promotes Charleston events year round.

Find out more.

Reach to Recovery

Reach To Recovery volunteers give support for people recently diagnosed with breast cancer, people facing a possible diagnosis, those interested in or who have undergone a lumpectomy or mastectomy, and those considering breast reconstruction.

Expressions of Healing

Though not unique to breast cancer, this Roper St. Francis Health Services program is a wonderful group for survivors of all cancer types. We like this support group, as it provides a creative outlet for patients, survivors, and the people who love them.

Using visual art and literature as a form of therapy, Expressions of Healing offers six weekly sessions that are held twice a year.

Click here for more information

Share your favorite Charleston-area breast cancer support groups in the comments below!

[Video] Natural Breast Reconstruction Q & A

Dr. Richard Kline answers Cheryl Harleston’s questions regarding breast reconstruction.

What this video covers:

  • The different breast reconstruction options available for women.
  • What to expect when undergoing a natural breast reconstruction procedure.
  • Why natural breast reconstruction may be the best procedure for some patients.

To find out more about natural breast reconstruction and whether you or a loved one might be a good fit for this procedure, please watch this informational video.

In Her Own Words: Patti Ehrlickman

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The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction team is passionate about sharing stories of amazing people who devote themselves to the breast cancer cause.

Patti Ehrlickman, a nurse who saw the daily struggle breast cancer patients, had the idea to invent a device to make the quality of life after undergoing a mastectomy just a little bit easier.

The apron-like garment, Poucharoo, holds the multiple post-mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgical drains in place to eliminate the inconvenience of dangling drains and reduce the risk of injury.

Patti’s goal is to make the difficult recovery after break surgery more manageable and comfortable.

To see the impact she’s made on the recovery process for many patients, watch this video.

Poucharoo is a medical support device that is comprised of two pockets and three detachable belts. It comes with a Poucharoo tote bag, and is made of washable poly-cotton that is soft and breathable. This device is worn around the waist and supports 1-4 drains—without the use of safety pins.

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Not only does a portion of the profits go to FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Patti also takes the time to send a personal email to each woman.

We’re proud to share her story, her product, and her passion for helping women with breast cancer. 

For more information about Poucharoo, visit the website.

10 Important Breast Cancer Facts

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Because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to highlight the significance of this serious illness. Below you’ll find a list of 10 facts about breast cancer.

This post pairs well with our 10 Breast Cancer Fundraising Ideas post. If you want to raise money for awareness, the ideas we shared in that post will help get you started.

Now let’s go over these very important facts:

1. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point. The bright side of this is women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. How? With a mammogram — the best screening test to detect signs of breast cancer.

2. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

3. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. It is estimated that over 40,000 women will die from breast cancer every year.

4. Men get breast cancer, too. Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.

5. Breast cancer rates vary by ethnicity. Rates are highest in non-Hispanic white women, followed by African American women. They’re lowest among Asian/Pacific Islander women.

6. Genetics have a role in breast cancer. Breast cancer risk is approximately doubled among women who have one first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with the disease. On the other hand,more than 85 percent of women with breast cancer have no family history.

7. Breast cancer risk increases as you get older. Even though breast cancer can develop at any age, you’re at greater risk the older you get. For women 20 years of age, the rate is 1 in 1,760. At 30, it significantly jumps to 1 in 229. At 50, it’s 1 in 29.

8. It’s the most feared disease by women. Yet, breast cancer is not as harmful as heart disease, which kills 4 to 6 times the amount of woman than breast cancer.

9. The majority of breast lumps women discover are not cancer. But you should still visit your doctor anyway, even though 80% are benign.

10. There is so much HOPE! There are currently more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone — and this number continues to climb each year.

It’s important to understand the facts about breast cancer, and learn how you can support loved ones and friends who are suffering from this illness, or have been affected by it. To learn more about breast cancer, you can download a PDF about the last 2013-2014 breast cancer facts from cancer.org.

To learn more about our mission, our practice, and our team, start here and meet our doctors.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Events

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October is a big month for the Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction team and our wonderful patients—and we’re making it a celebration!

In case you didn’t get the hint from the pink ribbons taking over Charleston, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Supporting this cause is so dear to our hearts, and we want to let our readers know about some fantastic events happening in our area this month.

We can’t wait to see what great things October brings!

October 2—Susan G. Komen Lowcountry’s Swing for the Cure

This year we are a proud sponsor of the October 2 Susan G. Komen Lowcountry’s Swing for the Cure event—a tennis and golf fundraiser that supports the fight against breast cancer.

The weekend festivities will be kicked off with an Oyster Roast and Barbecue at The Lettered Olive Restaurant in Wild Dunes.

Click here for more information.

October 5, 12—Dr. Kline Talking Natural Breast Reconstruction

On October 5 and 12, you may see our very own Dr. Kline on Channel 4 talking all things Breast Reconstruction!

Click here for a sneak peek.

October 17—KOMEN LOWCOUNTRY RACE FOR THE CURE®

This event is always a BLAST. 100% of the net proceeds are allocated to supporting the local breast cancer community.

There are a variety of walks and runs for every skill level—even one for kids!

The race takes place at the Family Circle Stadium, and the gates open at 7 a.m.

Click here for more information.

October 23—Pink Day with Panera Bread

Be sure to head to one of the 3 Panera Bread locations participating in Pink Day. The Tanger Mall, Citadel Mall, and Main Street locations will be decked out in pink and providing pink ribbon bagels available for purchase. Delicious food and supporting a good cause are two of our favorite things!

Click here for more information.

For more on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, visit our Facebook page.

Mastectomy: Your Questions Answered

pink flowerYou just found out that you might need a mastectomy.

First, we’re so sorry to hear that. We understand what an overwhelming and emotional time this is for you and your family.

A lot of thoughts and feelings start to rush through your head when you hear the diagnosis, and it’s difficult to focus and ask the questions you need to ask.

In this article, we’re sharing some common questions patients ask about mastectomies so that we can help you get all of the necessary information that you need.

What are the three levels of mastectomy?

Let’s start with understanding the three levels of mastectomy:

1) A total mastectomy removes the breast tissue, nipple, areola, and some skin around the incision. This procedure commonly follows cancers that occur in two or more areas of the breast or those that extend beyond a biopsy’s edges.

2) A modified radical is similar to a total mastectomy, but includes an axillary dissection or sentinel node biopsy. This is now the most commonly performed mastectomy.

3) Previously, the radical mastectomy was the most common procedure—removing muscle, lymph nodes, and skin. However, now this is rarely performed.

Do I really need a mastectomy?

In some cases, a lumpectomy with radiation is as effective as mastectomy.

Given the choice, most American women choose a mastectomy—even when the outcomes of the two procedures will yield the same result. As with any surgical procedure, it’s always advisable to get a second opinion from a surgeon in a different practice.

Recent advances in the mastectomy procedure help save normal body tissue, such as the breast skin and areola, that doesn’t necessarily need to be removed in every patient. Every patient’s circumstances are unique and so are mastectomies. For instance, preventive mastectomies are different than mastectomies for cancer or when lumpectomies don’t work.

Will my nipple be removed, and will there be scaring?

It depends on the individual’s situation, however, it is possible to have a mastectomy and save the nipple.

There are also situations when a mastectomy is done with a “hidden” or “scarless” approach.

Advances in microsurgery and breast surgery allow surgeons to perform mastectomies with hidden scars, similar to a breast lift or augmentation procedure, without leaving scars on the breast skin. Patients who are candidates for this surgery preserve their breast skin—including the nipple and areola.

This technique begins with an incision under the arm, under the breast fold, around the nipple, or down the bottom of the breast below the bra line. Reconstruction involves using a one of the perforator flap techniques (DIEP, SIEA, or GAP), where the relocated tissue fills in and shapes the breast.

Ask if your plastic surgeon works with a breast surgeon who considers these options when planning your mastectomy. Also if a reconstruction is scheduled immediately following mastectomy and you have completed chemotherapy and/or radiation, the mastectomy may be done in a way to make the overall result of your reconstruction better.

Have more questions? Our doctors are happy to provide their expertise.

What to Look For in a Breast Reconstruction Surgeon

picture of roseAs you face the prospect of mastectomy and possibly reconstruction, it’s important that you feel you’re in good hands.

We suggest that patients look for these four characteristics in their ideal plastic surgeon: skill, compassion, rapport, and honesty.

When interviewing surgeons (something you should definitely do!) for microsurgical breast reconstruction, ask the following questions:

Question #1: Are you a microsurgeon? Where and by whom were you trained in this specialty?

You will want to know exactly what the doctor’s specialty is and where his training took place.

Question #2: How many microsurgeries have you performed? And how often do you perform them?

You want to know that your surgeon is very familiar and well versed with your particular surgery.

Question #3: What is your success rate?

Not only is this an important question to ask in regard to the surgeon’s skill level, but it’s also important to ask about the overall success rate of the surgery you’re looking into, by any surgeon.

Question #4: Can you arrange for me to speak with some of your patients who have had the procedure I am seeking?

This is a great way to communicate with others who can give you advice on what to expect, post op recovery, and information on their experience with the doctor. It’s important to note that candidates should speak with people of similar ages and lifestyles.

Question #5: How long do you anticipate I will be under anesthesia for the procedure?

It’s important for the surgeon to walk you through what to expect the day of the procedure—this way there will be no surprises, and you can also let your caregiver know the time commitment.

Question #6: How many board-certified physicians will be assisting with the first stage of the procedure? Will there be physicians in training (residents) involved with my surgery?

Be sure to know exactly who will be involved in the procedure and why your doctor has chosen them to participate in the surgery.

Question #7: Will I have to sign a consent form saying, if a physician is unable to complete the procedure, I will have to consent to a TRAM/Free TRAM?

Always know exactly what you’re signing and agreeing to, and make sure you’re comfortable with the contract. 

Have a question for our doctors? Message them here

5 Myths About Breast Cancer

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There’s a lot of false information swirling around these days about what causes breast cancer.

It can be really confusing and overwhelming to sift through what information is valid and what is just plain untrue. Not only that, but some of this information can make the difference in early breast cancer detection.

That’s why we’re debunking these 5 myths that you may have heard about breast cancer.

1. Only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk

It is important to get annual breast exams, even if you don’t have a family history of the illness. According to Health.com, about 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year had no identifiable risk factors. However, if you have a family history—especially with first-degree relatives, your breast cancer risk is increased.

2. Bras increase your risk

This is an absolute myth. Science has finally debunked the idea that wearing an underwire bra increases your risk for a breast cancer diagnosis. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the two have been found to be unrelated.

3. Breast cancer always comes with a lump

This myth is a real problem. Many women believe the only warning sign for breast cancer is finding a lump. A lump is certainly something you should look for, but women should also look for other, sometimes less noticeable, changes in their breasts. Some of these changes include nipple pain or retraction, skin irritation or scaliness, and breast swelling.

4. Your father’s family history doesn’t impact your risk as much as your mother’s

The women on your father’s side of the family increase your risk just as substantially as your mother’s. Make sure to educate yourself on common family illnesses on both sides of your family at least two generations back.

5. Drinking too much caffeine causes cancer

Good news for all you coffee drinkers out there: there has not been a scientific link found between caffeine consumption and breast cancer. Go ahead and pour yourself a cup of morning Joe!

Read these tips to learn how to decrease your chance for breast cancer