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!

Ask the Doctor- Can You Do Repair and Nipple Reconstruction Surgery at the Same Time on the Same Breast?

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

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!!

Answer: I’m sorry you are having to go through this.

Did you have a complete mastectomy on the left breast or a lumpectomy? If your margins were positive (unbeknownst at the time of surgery, obviously), and you had an immediate DIEP flap, that could be a little complicated to resolve, although I’m sure we could work through it. Given that your scenario is a little bit unusual, it would probably be best if we talked by phone. Please let us know what works for you.

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

Ask the Doctor- Are Implants Still an Option after Radiation? I Have Expanders Now that Were Placed At the Time of Mastectomy.

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

Question: I had a double mastectomy in January 2017. Expanders were placed at that time. I had radiation March-May. Postponed reconstruction until June 2018. Are implants still an option?

Answer: Implants may still be an option, but it’s going to depend on several things, probably the most important of which is how much you were expanded prior to radiation. It can be next to impossible to expand skin after it is radiated, although occasionally it seems to work. If you were expanded, and are tolerating the expanders well, then hopefully it would be straightforward to remove the expanders and place permanent implants. In addition to placing permanent implants, fat grafting can often significantly enhance the quality of your reconstruction.

If you end up not getting a reconstruction you like with implants, the good news is that none of what you have been through impacts your chances of getting a quality reconstruction with your own natural tissue. We have successfully reconstructed many, many hundreds of radiated patients with DIEP, sGAP, and other natural tissue flaps.

Hope this helps, please let us know if you would like additional information.

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

Ask the Doctor-What are Your Suggestions For Muscle Spasms After Breast Reconstruction?

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

Question: I had breast reconstruction on my left breast in 2006. I have had muscle spasms in it ever since. Recently they have gotten bad again. Any suggestions?

Answer: I’m sorry you are having problems with your reconstruction.
You didn’t mention if you were reconstructed with an implant or with your own tissue, so I will answer as if you are reconstructed with an implant. Please let me know if I have assumed wrongly.

There are several potential reasons why you could have spasms. If the implant was placed under the pectoralis chest muscle, it can lead to pains in the pectoralis muscle or other muscles, as the muscle is no longer functioning in precisely the way it was designed to. Most people tolerate the implants well, but there is no question some have more problems than others. The muscle can also sometimes separate from attachments to the chest wall over time, which could cause changes in symptoms. Additionally, If you are radiated, this could potentially cause additional problems, as the muscle may be less flexible.

If you can, I would contact your original plastic surgeon, as he or she is probably in the best position to evaluate your symptoms. I would also be happy to discuss your situation with you further by phone, if you wish.

Thanks for your question.

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

Ask the Doctor- I’m Unhappy With My Reconstructive Result from Another Surgeon – Are You Able to Make It Look More Natural?

This week, James E. Craigie MD, of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your question about breast reconstruction.

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 re position 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.

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

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

Ask the Doctor- Are These Normal Problems To Have 2 Years after a Breast Reduction?

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

Question: I had a breast reduction over two years ago. It still feels like I have scar tissue in some areas and nipple tends to be a little sore at times. Is that normal?

Answer: No, that’s not normal, and I’m sorry you’re having to endure it.

I can’t tell what is going on by your description, but it’s possible that you have some residual dead fat in your breasts which has not been resorbed. An MRI scan would be the best way to determine this. It’s also possible that you have pain for no discernible reason, which is unusual, but it happens from time to time. That doesn’t mean it can’t be treated, however, as pain therapists can be very effective in helping manage that type of pain.

I would be happy to help you any way I can, but it would be best if you first returned to the surgeon who did your reduction and let her / him know of your concerns. If that doesn’t work, please let me know.

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!

Ask the Doctor-It’s Been 30 Years Since My Modified Radical Mastectomy and I am 65 Years Old. Am I Still a Candidate for DIEP?

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

Question: It has been 30 years since my modified radical mastectomy and I am 65 years old. Am I still a candidate for DIEP.

Answer: If you are in reasonably good health, you may well be a wonderful candidate for natural breast reconstruction with a DIEP, sGAP, or other flap. We have restored many ladies’ breasts many, many years after their mastectomy(ies), and they usually do very well after surgery. It is actually advantageous to enter into the reconstructive operation fully healed, as this speeds operating time, as well as recovery. I would be delighted to speak with you about your options by phone, if you wish, or you are welcome to come for a consultation at any time.

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

Ask the Doctor- I am Currently on a Diet to Lose Weight. Will My Breasts Get Smaller Too?

This week, James E. Craigie, MD, of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your question about breast reconstruction.

Question: I am currently on a diet to lose weight. Will my breasts get smaller too?

Answer: Depending on how much  weight you lose you might notice a change. It should be minimal and proportional. You can’t “spot”reduce any one area  of the body. Therefore if you lose a moderate amount of weight you should have no problem.

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

Ask the Doctor-Are Your Doctors Experienced with Tuberous Breast Deformities and Repair Without Breast Implants?

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

Question: Are any of your doctors experienced with tuberous breast deformities and repair without breast implants?

Answer: We don’t have specific experience with tuberous breast deformities, but I am nonetheless optimistic that we can address your concerns. The cornerstone for tuberous breast deformity reconstruction is reduction of the nipple areolar complex.

This is straightforward, and the remaining part of the equation, enlargement of the breast mound, is also well defined. If you do not want to use implants, but also want to be larger, you may have to accept some additional scars associated with transfer of natural tissue.

Otherwise, there are no particular problems. I would be happy to discuss your situation in more detail, if you wish.

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