3 Ways to Support a Friend with a New Breast Cancer Diagnosis

In the past, we’ve talked about how you can help someone who is in the midst of battling breast cancer.

It’s amazing how simple things like cooking a meal or sending a card can really make a difference in the life of someone who is undergoing treatment.

In this article, however, we thought it would be nice to give some advice on how to be a friend when someone is newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

After all, while a battle with breast cancer is certainly challenging, the initial shock of being diagnosed is downright difficult.

Many times, we are quick to jump in and say, “Everything’s going to be fine” out of the kindness of our hearts. But, that’s not necessarily true or helpful.

Keep reading to discover 3 powerful ways you can help someone who is coping with a new cancer diagnosis.

Be a Good Listener

Humans are verbal creatures, so sometimes it’s our natural instinct to start blurting things out like “You’ll beat this,” “You’re tougher than cancer,” or “Everything will be fine.”

But, in the midst of a new diagnosis, these words are very cliché and unhelpful.

No one knows what the future holds, and your friend has just started the battle of a lifetime. Now is the time to sit quietly and listen.

Take in what your friend has to say and only chime in when appropriate.

Don’t push for details on what type of cancer she’s been diagnosed with or how bad the diagnosis is. Your friend or family member will reveal that information if she wants to in her own time.

It’s possible that your loved one won’t want to talk about her diagnosis at all. Perhaps, she needs some time to get her mind off the matter and focus on other things.

Let your friend or family member direct the conversation.

Make Yourself Available

Processing a cancer diagnosis is mentally draining.

And, as treatments begin, a battle with cancer becomes physically draining as well.

This is why making yourself available to a friend who has been newly diagnosed is so valuable.

A friend or family member might need you to sit and talk with her as she processes her diagnosis.

Or she might just need you to watch her kids, walk her dog, etc., so she can get in a nap when she is feeling drained and exhausted.

Making yourself available to jump in and help whenever and wherever help is needed is one of the best gifts you can give someone.

It’s possible that your loved one will be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. For this reason, be sure to extend the invitation to help so she doesn’t have to ask for it.

If your loved one declines the help, make it a point to let her know that you’ll always be there for her as time goes on in case she needs an extra hand later.

Be a True Friend

Being a true friend means being honest, open, giving, and readily available when needed.

It also means not gossiping about your friend’s recent diagnosis or sharing things that shouldn’t be shared.

We understand that it can be hard to not discuss your friend’s personal matters with others who are close to you. After all, it’s likely that you’ll need time to process a friend or family member’s cancer diagnosis, too.

But, it’s important to remember that your loved one who has been diagnosed is sharing difficult and often deeply personal information with you–information that she might not want shared publicly.

Always ask permission before you share information.

For example, you might be a part of a religious group that wants to pray for the friend or family member who has been diagnosed.

This is a lovely thing to do. But, before you tell your entire prayer circle about your loved one’s diagnosis, make sure it’s ok to share.

Your loved one who is battling cancer needs someone who she can confide in and depend on.

Be a true friend.

How have you supported a friend or family member who was diagnosed with cancer? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Ways to Celebrate International Women’s Day This Year

Women are amazing.

From working full-time jobs and raising families to caring for those in need and having to deal with awful things like breast cancer, women are powerhouses.

We don’t let life get us down, and even in the midst of a struggle, we keep our heads held high.

For that reason, it’s no surprise that International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8, was established in order to celebrate women from all walks of life.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize, or if you’re simply the peacekeeper in your home.

You (and all of your lady friends) deserve to be recognized and honored.

During the week of March 8, we invite you to celebrate International Women’s Day with us.

Not sure how to celebrate? Check out some of the fun suggestions below!

Bake an International Women’s Day Cake and Host a Party

No celebration is complete without a cake!

This year, bake your favorite cake, decorate it, and then host a party for all your favorite gal pals. There’s nothing better than being surrounded by cake and good company.

If you’re worried about making enough dessert for everyone, ask your friends or family members to all contribute a small cake or dessert of their choosing. Doing this ensures you’ll have enough food and that everyone at your party will be able to enjoy their preferred dessert.

You could also ask people to contribute things like drinks, plates, or plastic silverware.

Volunteer at a Women’s Shelter

Serving women is one of the best ways to celebrate women. After all, many women are nurturers by nature and are great at loving on others and building them up.

The best way to serve…volunteer at a women’s shelter.

From homeless women’s shelters to domestic violence and abuse centers, there’s no shortage of places that could use a helping hand.

The best part…you don’t have to have a special talent or gift in order to volunteer.

Whether you’re serving a meal, helping with laundry, providing entertainment, or just spending time with someone who could use a friend to talk to, your presence will be greatly appreciated.

Gather up your girlfriends and make a day of it while giving back to the women who need your help.

Tip: Be sure to call around to your local shelters and women’s centers to see what they need help with. Some places might need volunteers, while others might need physical donations like blankets, soap, or food.

Enjoy a Chick Flick Movie Night Starring Your Favorite Female Leads

A long time ago, women’s movie roles were often limited to wives and love interests.

However, in the past few decades, women have really started to make headway in the film industry, taking the lead and starring as strong, independent, and intelligent characters.

For this reason, we think it would be fun to have your girlfriends and female family members over for a chick flick movie night that features female actresses.

Here are a few movie suggestions that feature female leads…

  • Thelma & Louise
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Legally Blonde
  • The Help
  • The Heat
  • Miss Congeniality

Enjoy a Spa Day with Your Girlfriends

Every lady deserves a day of pampering. And what better way to be pampered than with a mani/pedi, massage, or new haircut?

In honor of International Women’s Day, get your best girlfriends together and make a day of it at the spa.

Splurge on the gel nails or foot massage–you deserve it!

Tip: Make your spa day even more extravagant by enjoying brunch before your appointment or lunch and drinks after your spa day.

Give Your Kids a History Lesson on Amazing Women

Harriet Tubman courageously led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad.

Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for research on radioactivity.

Amelia Earhart was a fearless female pilot.

These are just three examples of amazing women role models that we should be teaching our children about.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we encourage you to talk with your kids about the brave, intelligent, and powerful women who have helped shape our country.

It’s so important that kids (especially young girls) understand that women can do anything that men can do.

How do you celebrate the women in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask the Doctor – Who Do I Ask About My Cancer Treatment, My Plastic Surgeon, Breast Surgeon, Or Oncologist?

This week, Audrey Rowen, PA-C, of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your question about breast reconstruction.

Question: Who do I ask about my cancer treatment, my plastic surgeon, breast surgeon, or oncologist?

Answer: Thanks for reaching out to us! That is typically a question we would defer to an oncologist to answer as they can calculate your overall risk for recurrence and how different surgical vs. medical treatments can impact that risk. Technically a lumpectomy is only removing the cancerous area, leaving the rest of your breast tissue intact, so by surface area, a lumpectomy leaves more breast tissue that could potentially develop a new breast cancer, where a mastectomy is an attempt to remove all breast tissue.

The options for reconstruction are much more plentiful with mastectomy vs lumpectomy, but that shouldn’t necessarily sway you either way. If we can answer any reconstruction questions about whichever option for cancer treatment that you may choose, please let us know. But definitely, chat with your oncologist about what they feel is your best option for overall survival.

Have a question about breast reconstruction or post-surgical you’d like answered from our surgical team? Just ask!

3 Common Breast Reconstruction Questions

Undergoing breast reconstruction surgery is a life-changing event.

It’s a decision that often requires multiple doctor’s consultations and lots of personal reflection after a battle with breast cancer.

And even after all that time spent planning, researching the best doctors, and doing your homework, it’s possible that you might walk out of a reconstructive surgery and be unhappy with the results.

It’s heartbreaking, and we hate to see women suffer through this.

That being said, there’s a lot that can be done to help repair reconstructive surgeries that didn’t go as planned.

And thanks to innovative technology and our amazing surgeons at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, our team can often help women achieve their reconstructive goals in order to feel beautiful and confident once again.

Are you feeling disappointed after a reconstructive surgery?

If so, we encourage you to take a look at some of the most common questions we get from women who are looking for reconstructive help to see how we’ve been able to help them in the past.

Chances are, if you have similar issues, we’ll be able to help you, too!

Check it out…

QUESTION 1: Is It Possible to Do Repair and Nipple Reconstruction Surgery at the Same Time on the Same Breast?

Not long ago, we received the following question from a prospective patient…

Question: I had hybrid DIEP reconstruction at another facility, and I am disappointed with the results. There have been many issues.

For example, my breasts are different shapes and sizes, no node involvement and no microinvasion. The surgeon who did the mastectomy said the path report said the margins were not wide enough and he will need to cut additional skin out during the next surgery.

The next surgery is supposed to be to reconstruct the nipple. Can you do both procedures on the same breast at the same time? Please Help!”

Here’s our response…

Answer: “I’m sorry you are having to go through this.If your margins were positive and you had an immediate DIEP flap, that could be a little complicated to resolve, although I’m sure we could work through it.

Reconstructive surgery can be different for every patient that we encounter. However, many times it is possible to do both at the same time. The best way to determine what method will work best for you is to come in for an evaluation.”

QUESTION 2: I’m Unhappy with My Reconstructive Result from Another Surgeon – Are You Able to Make It Look More Natural?

The question we received was…

Question: “Three years ago, I had a double mastectomy and am now cancer free. My plastic surgeon did a terrible job with the reconstruction. The left side implant is way off to the outer side and looks larger than the right side.

The right side is way too far to the outside. There is zero cleavage.

Is there any way to reposition the implants more to the natural position of the breast? I do not expect perfect but don’t like looking like a botched job. Thank you.”

Our response is as follows…

Answer:  “I’m glad to hear you have been cancer free and have your treatment for breast cancer behind you. At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, it is part of our mission to help women move on with their lives after breast cancer. We focus our efforts on helping women get their bodies back together with permanent, natural results.

I’m sorry you are disappointed with your reconstruction. If you have had radiation, then it may be very hard to have your breasts match with implant reconstruction. If you have not had radiation, then perhaps your implants could be revised or adjusted for an improvement.

Unfortunately, these corrections are all too often temporary. It is possible that using your own fatty tissue would be a more permanent option without implants.

Sometimes it is hard to start over with another approach, but it may be necessary if you desire a more natural and permanent result. So, the answer is yes–it’s likely that we CAN help you achieve a more natural look.

If you would like more information about natural breast reconstruction with your own tissue, let me know.”

QUESTION 3: I Am Unhappy with My Previous Bilateral Mastectomy with Reconstruction Using Implants. Are You Able to Fix It?

Question: “I’m not happy with the results of my bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction using implants. Reaching out to see if it can be fixed.”

Answer:  “It is very likely that we could help you with your unsatisfactory reconstruction. This problem can often be fixed either by using your own tissue, or by revising your implant reconstruction.

I will be happy to discuss your situation and provide you with some options.”

Looking for options to improve your breast reconstruction results? Give us a call at 1-866-374-2627 or contact us online to find out more!

The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction Gives Thanks

On behalf of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

We hope you are able to spend time this week with the ones you love, eating delicious food and reflecting on the many things you are grateful for!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve spent some time thinking about the things that we are truly grateful for. And in honor of this holiday of giving thanks, we wanted to share our list with you.

How many things do we have in common on our lists? Keep reading to find out…

#1 — The opportunity to work with so many courageous women who have battled breast cancer.

First and foremost, we are so thankful that we get to work with such amazing women each and every day. Their stories inspire us, their smiles brighten our day, and it is truly a gift to be able to interact with each and every one of the ladies we work with.

Read the stories from some amazing women here.

#2 — Our team of highly skilled staff and medical professionals.

We never take for granted the amazing staff and medical professionals that we have on our team. We are thankful that we have kind, hardworking, and highly skilled professionals that are able to give our clients the best care they deserve.

#3 — Our health.

Every day we work with women who have fought courageous battles against cancer. And every time we hear a new patient’s story, we are reminded of how lucky we are to have our health.

#4 — Our friends and family.

From loving spouses and children to awesome coworkers and friends, we are thankful to be surrounded by those who love us each day.

#5 — Our freedoms.

We are thankful for all the freedoms we have. From access to the technology and education we need to serve our patients to being able to pursue our passion to help women recover and heal from breast cancer, we are truly blessed.

#6 — Delicious food.

Last, but certainly not least, we are thankful for the delicious Thanksgiving meal we will be indulging in this week. There’s nothing better than chowing down on our Thanksgiving favorites while surrounded by the people we love.

Need some inspiration of what to bring to your Thanksgiving table this year? Here are some of our favorite holiday recipes!

This year, when you’re gathered around your Thanksgiving dinner table, we encourage you to share the things you’re grateful for with your loved ones.

Once again, Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! We hope you have a wonderful holiday!

What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask the Doctor- I’m Having Pain After My Last Latissimus Flap/Implant Reconstruction. What Can I Do Now?

This week, Richard M. Kline, Jr., MD, of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your question about breast reconstruction.

Question: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and had a mastectomy on my left side followed by chemo. In 2014, my mammogram began showing tumors and I would have an ultrasound every time. This caused panic attacks and I choose to have my right breast removed because the type of cancer I had was Stage 4 Aggressive. In April 2015, I had a bilateral latissimus flat and received implants. Now I am experiencing pain across my back where I was cut and my chest gets uncomfortably tight. The site of the drainage tube is swollen and doesn’t feel good. I stopped seeing my reconstruction doctor because he did things I was not informed of. I am worried because I do not know what is going on anymore. Could you please advise me as to what might be going on or what to do?

Answer: I’m sorry you are continuing to have problems, but you are not alone.

I can’t speak about your situation specifically because I haven’t examined you, but here are some thoughts in general about patients with symptoms like yours.

There is no question that many people with implants describe symptoms such as yours. Often, there is no discernible reason why they should feel discomfort, but they do. Nonetheless, many of them feel relief when the implants are removed. This does not mean that you would or should, it is just an observation.

The latissimus flap can be done with or without dividing the nerve that makes it contract. I have known some patients with latissimus flaps done without dividing the nerve to have discomfort associated with the muscle contracting. Some have experienced relief when the nerve was subsequently divided. Obviously, I don’t know if this is your situation or not.

Sometimes people have complex, persistent pain after surgery or injury which is out of all proportion to what would be expected. This can be difficult to treat but thankfully is rare.

When evaluating a patient with symptoms like yours, we usually start with a careful history and physical evaluation. Sometimes, especially if we have concerns about implant rupture, fluid collections, infection, etc., we then get an MRI and/or CT scan Following the complete evaluation, we then decide together how to proceed.

Hope this helps at least a little. I would be happy to chat with you further by phone about your specific problem or see you in person if you can come for a visit.

Have a question about breast reconstruction or post-surgical you’d like answered from our surgical team? Just ask!

Our Surgeons Show Support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. And it’s important that we take the time to remember those who have lost their lives to breast cancer, support those who are battling it, and celebrate those who have won their cancer battle.

One of the ways The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction likes to celebrate is to get involved in community events that are focused on breast cancer awareness.

This year we’ve been invited to participate in a series of Breast Cancer symposiums. We are thrilled that two of our surgeons, Dr. Craigie and Dr. Kline, will be included in the panel for these discussions.

All of the Charleston, SC, community is invited to attend these talks, and we encourage you to attend if you are able!

Check out the details below…

East Cooper Breast Cancer Symposium – October 4

The first Breast Cancer educational symposium will be held at the East Cooper Medical Center. The event will take place in the classrooms at the hospital, limiting registration to about 40 people.

During this event, a panel of medical experts will be talking about a variety of breast cancer topics, from treatment and prevention to reconstructive surgeries and life after breast cancer.

The facility will be serving boxed dinners for participants to enjoy during the panel talk, which will take place from 6:00 p.m. to around 8:00 p.m.

Space is limited, so if you’re interested in attending please call the East Cooper Medical Center at (888) 417-1377 to find out how to register for the event.

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day Talks – October 17, 18, and 19

To celebrate Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day (BRA day), three talks on breast reconstruction will be held over the course of three days—October 17, 18, and 19.

All three events will feature medical professionals and surgeons who are active members of Roper’s breast cancer team. The topics of discussion will focus on reconstructive breast surgery.

A few featured topics include…

  • A presentation on fat grafting.
  • A discussion on Micro Autologous.
  • A talk on lymph node transfer.

The first talk will be held on Tuesday, October 17, at 6:30 p.m. at Roper Mount Pleasant in Classrooms 1, 2, and 3. For more information, click here.

The second talk will be held on Wednesday, October 18, at 6:30 p.m. at Roper Bon Secours St. Francis, Mall Classrooms 1, 2, and 3. For more information, click here.

The third talk will be held on Thursday, October 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Roper Hospital, Irene Dixon Auditorium. For more information, click here.

Please note that the same talks will be given each night, so it’s only necessary to attend one event if you have an interest in going.

On behalf of our entire staff, we wish you a happy National Breast Cancer Awareness month. And to those of you who are currently battling breast cancer, our thoughts are with you.

Do you have any National Breast Cancer Awareness month activities on your schedule that you’re excited about?

Share them with us in the comments below!

Finding Beauty After Breast Cancer: Register for a Free Class at Sephora

 

 Our surgeons and staff at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction know firsthand how difficult a battle with breast cancer can be.

From the moment you’re diagnosed, everything changes. Your emotional, mental, and psychological health is instantly impacted. And throughout your breast cancer journey, your physical appearance is also bound to change.

This transformation can unfortunately leave a lot of woman no longer feeling confident in their own skin.

While we believe that all women—no matter their journey—are beautiful, we also know that a little pampering and some fun with makeup can go a long way in making you feel radiant and confident.

With National Breast Cancer Awareness month in full swing, there are numerous educational talks, fundraisers, and events going on. If you’re in the Charleston, SC, area, we’d like to personally invite you to a special event at Sephora on King Street.

We are joining forces with Sephora in order to promote their FREE Brave Beauty class for women who have battled cancer.

The event will take place on Sunday, October 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sephora on King Street. The official address is 289 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401.

This 90-minute Brave Beauty class is designed to help you discover techniques and products that address the visible effects of your cancer treatments.

During this event, you’ll be given skincare tips tailored to your needs and then will be matched with Color IQ and receive step-by-step instructions for a creating a radiant complexion, natural-looking brows, and defined eyes.

If you’re interested in attending, we encourage you to check out this awesome video from Sephora that features cancer survivor Emily as she explains why attending a Brave Beauty class is a great way to celebrate how beautiful you truly are.

Watch the video here!

If you’re interested in signing up, please contact us at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction to register, and we will pass your information along to the event host.

You can get in touch with us here.

Do you have any tips or tricks for feeling confident and radiant after a battle with cancer?

Share them with us in the comments below!

Breast Reconstruction Surgery: 16 Pre-Op Q&As from Our Physician Assistant

Breast reconstruction surgery can be scary. And we know that you’re bound to have questions about what to expect when it comes to the surgery itself and the healing process afterwards.

Thankfully, we have a handful of reconstruction surgery experts at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction. We’re thrilled that one of our very own Physician Assistant, Audrey Rowen, PA-C, takes special care to personally answer reconstruction surgery questions asked by our patients. We were particularly impressed by this group of them and wanted to share with you!

If you’re about to have breast reconstruction surgery, or are considering the option, please keep reading! We think you’ll find comfort in the answers below.

1. Where will the scars on my breasts be and will I be able to wear low-cut tops like I did before?

We try to use previous implant scars if we can, but sometimes we need to do things a little differently in order to access the blood vessels behind your breasts.

The incisions we make are generally below the nipple line and should be covered by most clothing. The shape and overall appearance of the breasts after stage 1 is not the final result so things won’t look as you are hoping until after the second stage. But, every person is different, and we will be better able to answer this question at your pre-op marking appointment and after your first surgery has been completed.

2. How long will I be in the surgical bra?

We typically keep our patients in the surgical bra for a minimum of 6-8 weeks and during any strenuous activity after that. After most healing is complete, we can switch you to a front-closing sports bra or other similar bra that provides support without being too tight. Most women wind up wearing a surgical bra through the first 2 stages and may be able to go without a surgical bra after that.

3. I think you said you could make me a C cup. I’d like you to make me as big as you can with what I have to work with.

We will do our best to give you the biggest flaps we can at the first stage. After that we can do fat grafting to increase the size of your breast. 

4. Does more fat in my tummy area make bigger, better breasts?

It can. This doesn’t mean we want you to go out and try to gain a bunch of weight before surgery because you can’t target where you want to store fat. In fact, sometimes the fat goes around your intestines or below your abdominal muscles, and we can’t get to that fat. Women who have larger tummies often have larger flaps, but we can always use liposuction to gather fat from other areas (buttocks, thighs, inner knees, waist area) at subsequent stages to add volume to the breast mounds later.

5. I understand they will not be pretty at first, but will they be lumpy or smooth, or what should I expect about how they are going to look in the beginning?

Every patient is different so the outcomes are not always standard. At the first stage, you will have what we call a “window” where the donor site flap skin is visible on your new breast. This does not mean it is an opening, but rather imagine that a piece of your skin is donor skin while the rest of your breast has your original breast skin.

This is not always permanent as we can sometimes completely close the breast skin on top of the flap, but in some patients who could not have skin-sparing mastectomies, they may always have that section of tummy skin showing.

Things stay pretty swollen for up to 2-3 months so there may be hard or squishy areas that may change throughout your recovery. We try to create a semi-smooth transition from your breast/chest skin to your donor site flap, but our main priority at stage one is to get the blood vessels attached and keep them working.

Things may look a little deformed, asymmetrical, or strange after the first stage, but we fix these issues at stage 2. You are also likely going to have what we call “dog ears” on either side of your abdominal incision from pulling the skin together. This will also be fixed at stage 2.

6. I think you said I wouldn’t need to have mammograms anymore. Is that correct?

Usually, you will not need any mammograms after having a mastectomy with reconstruction. Your oncologist often makes the definitive decision if you are at any increased risk of recurrence or need any routine monitoring. We still highly recommend doing monthly self-breast exams to monitor for any changes. If it does, please notify us or your oncologist/breast surgeon if you find anything of concern.

7. I would like to see some before and after pictures of the different stages and final result. How can I accomplish this? Can you send some to me?

We have some pictures on our website that show you the before and after photos. We do not have any designated photos of the in-between stages to show you, unfortunately. Dr. Kline may have a few extra pictures to show you at your pre-op marking appointment if you wish.

Click here to view our image gallery. 

8. Will you be lifting my left breast to make it match the right one that doesn’t sag because of the radiation?

We always take radiated breasts into consideration when making the flaps. We sometimes make a radiated breast flap a little larger to account for this, or we lift the non-radiated breast more. Most of this tweaking is done at stage 2 or 3, and there is no hard-and-fast guarantee of how the radiated tissue will do. But, we try our best to give you a symmetrical result.

9. How is the fat grafting accomplished? With needles or what?

Fat grafting is done just like traditional liposuction, but instead of throwing away the fat, it gets strained of any debris, blood vessels, etc., and gets injected back into your body, just below the skin, wherever it is needed.

We only make a small incision through which we insert a cannula that gets shifted around under your skin to collect the fat cells. We make a few incisions in the donor sites that are discussed with you before your surgery and those incisions are closed with a few stitches and a little Dermabond glue on top. The strained fat is then inserted with a special bendable needle that can be shaped to follow around a breast mound or however we need it to go to inject the fat.

10. After the fat grafting, will that fat continue to replenish itself? Like if I gain weight, will my breasts get bigger?

After liposuction, fat accumulation tends to appear in areas other than sites that you have had the fat grafting from. This doesn’t mean you will never get fat in those areas again, but it often finds its way to a few different places. Your breasts will be your own tissue and fat, so if you did gain weight, you could possibly gain weight in your breasts and the same goes for losing weight. 

11. Will my C-section ledge be gone?

We try to take other abdominal scars into consideration when finding the best placement of your new “abdominoplasty” scar. By removing the tissue located on your abdomen, there is a good chance your C-section ledge will resolve, but we cannot guarantee this. It’s another one of those things that depends on the patient, and we will have a better answer for you when we do your pre-op marking.

12. When can I drive?

We don’t want you driving as long as you have drains in (breast or abdominal), which is typically 2-3 weeks. Also, if you are taking any prescription pain medication (Percocet, Dilaudid, Valium), we don’t want you driving until you have switched to taking over-the-counter medications.

We also want to ensure that you feel you can be a defensive driver and not worry that if you had to swerve out of the way, you’d hurt something. Most women sit in the back seat away from the airbag for about 2 weeks and often place a pillow between their chest and the seatbelt to help cushion the pressure from the belt itself.

13. When can I have sex?

We don’t recommend any strenuous activity for several weeks following surgery. I would plan to wait at least 2 weeks and then see what may be tolerated. You don’t want to be using your abdominal muscles for up to 6-8 weeks so you have to be mindful of your limitations. As things heal and you progress in your recovery, you may increase activity as tolerated.

14. Can you also remove the lump of scar tissue from the four drains that were put in my rib area by the other doctors? It makes my bra roll up, and it’s uncomfortable.

Depending on the exact location, we may be able to remove it at the first stage, but it is more likely that we will look into that at second stage as the process of harvesting and grafting the blood vessels is very time-consuming and is the main priority at that time.

15. When will I know if my nipples have to be removed?

This is really a question for your breast surgeon. If you are able to have a nipple sparing mastectomy, we cannot guarantee that your nipples will live as they can sometimes scab over and become necrotic. But, there is also a good chance they will survive. In the event that one or both of your nipples needed to be removed or did not survive, we have multiple options for nipple reconstruction.

16. Can I go ahead and get my flu shot before I have my surgery?

As I am answering this, I don’t believe it is currently flu season, and we would rather not introduce anything into your body this close to surgery. I would wait until 1-2 months after surgery.

Do you have a question about breast reconstruction or post-surgery that you’d like answered from our surgical team? Ask the doctor now 

Flap Reconstruction Surgery: Important Stats and Abstract Information

If you’ve had breast cancer and are considering reconstruction surgery, it’s possible that one of the options you may be looking into is flap reconstruction surgery.

Breast reconstruction utilizing “flap” techniques are procedures where body tissue is used to reconstruct the shape of your breast after surgery. While it’s a relatively common type of reconstructive surgery these days, we feel it’s important that you should learn as much as possible about the benefits and risks, and discuss them with your doctor before you have the procedure.

That’s why we at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction are always looking for better ways to educate and inform our patients before a decision.

One way we ensure our patients have access to the latest in medicine and medical technology is to have our surgeons and staff constantly learning, researching, and writing about their findings.

In fact, some of our latest research on reconstructive flap surgery was recently submitted to the American Association of Plastic Surgeons by our Dr. Kline. This specific abstract documented the success rate of our reconstructive flap surgeries with regard to the role of autogenous microvascular breast reconstruction in the community.

Check it out…

Abstract

PURPOSE: To present the continuing role of autogenous microvascular breast reconstruction in the community

METHODS: 1393 free perforator flaps for breast reconstruction were performed by two surgeons from October, 2003 to October, 2016. All flaps were performed in two community hospitals. Types of flaps included DIEP unilateral (122 flaps), DIEP simultaneous bilateral (866 flaps), DIEP bipedicle (106 flaps), sGAP unilateral (55 flaps), sGAP simultaneous bilateral (202 flaps), iGAP unilateral (2 flaps), iGAP simultaneous bilateral (18 flaps), PAP unilateral (5 flaps), PAP bilateral (10 flaps), SIEA unilateral (3 flaps), SIEA simultaneous bilateral (2 flaps), and TFL perforator (1 flap). The series includes a large number of both immediate and delayed reconstructions, prior failed reconstructions, and patients with a history of radiation.

RESULTS: Overall flap survival rate was 98.2%. DIEP survival rate was 99.1%. sGAP survival rate was 95.7%. No primary unilateral flaps were lost, and no bilateral losses occurred. Including those patients whose initial flaps failed, 99% of patients were ultimately successfully reconstructed with autogenous tissue.

CONCLUSION: Implant-based reconstruction is an appropriate initial choice for many patients, but autogenous microsurgical reconstruction still remains an excellent option, whether as an initial choice, or for patients with a prior history of failed reconstruction. With proper preparation and institutional support, perforator flap breast reconstruction can be performed with a high degree of success in a community hospital setting.

On top of the abstract, our physicians—Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D. and James E. Craigie MD—also wrote the chapter on GAP (buttock) flaps for the book Perforator Flaps for Breast Reconstruction.

Check out the book chapter here.

As we mentioned earlier, we are passionate about continuing to learn, receive training, and interact with the scientific community to ensure we provide our patients with the safest, most advanced care.

And, while we’re doing our job to make sure we’re properly training our staff and staying up-to-date with the latest in medical technology, there’s one thing we encourage you to do as well—always ask for medical procedure stats.

Much like the abstract we provided above, your doctor should be able to provide you with stats on the procedures he or she conducts.

When patients come to us and ask questions on success rates, we can happily tell them the different percentage rates of success for the various procedures we provide. Equipping our patients with this information empowers them to make wise, educated decisions about their own health.

So, please, before you move ahead with a specific procedure, ask your doctor for the stats. If they have a high success rate with their surgeries, then you’re in the right place. If they don’t, it’s time for you to find another doctor.

We wish you the best as you move forward with any new procedure you may need!

Did you find the book chapter insightful? Let us know what you learned and what you thought was helpful to know in the comments below!