Breast Reconstruction After Lumpectomy and Radiation

The below questions are answered by Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr. of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction.

Can I have a breast reconstruction two years after the lumpectomy and radiation?

Absolutely! While reconstruction with implants after radiation (even if lumpectomy and not a whole mastectomy were performed) can often be problematic (if not impossible), the chance of getting a successful reconstruction using your own tissue is very high. In the simplest scenario, it is usually possible to use tissue from the abdomen or buttocks to simply “replace” the breast tissue lost from lumpectomy and radiation.

Alternatively, sometimes a better result can be obtained if the lumpectomy is converted to a mastectomy prior to reconstruction. Finally, if the survivor is in a high-risk group for developing another breast cancer, she may wish to consider whether bilateral mastectomy is advisable prior to reconstruction. Usually reconstructing a lumpectomy defect will require only one side of the abdomen, so if the other side is not needed for reconstruction, it will be removed for symmetry and discarded.

What tips do you share with your patients for them to achieve the very best results from breast reconstruction?

1. Have a positive attitude! Patients who are excited about their reconstruction frequently do very well and tolerate any “bumps in the road” much better.

2. Education. Try to become very familiar with your desired type of reconstruction, both through reading and discussing it with patients who have been through it already. Knowing what to expect allays fears and makes everything easier.

3. If time permits, maximize your body’s fitness through diet and exercise, to the extent that you are comfortable doing so.

—Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D.

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Beating Psoriasis and Dry Skin this Winter

Dry SkinDuring the winter, we often see breast reconstructive surgery patients who suffer from dry skin and psoriasis. While dry skin is a common winter complaint, it doesn’t have to be your fate. Following are some tips to prevent dry skin and take care of psoriasis.

Eat plenty of good fats.

Your body needs essential oils to keep everything smooth, silky, and healthy. Be sure to eat healthy-fat foods every day, such as avocados, nuts, and salmon. Check with your doctor to see how much you need, and enjoy!

Drink plenty of water.

We tend to forget to drink plain water in the winter because we crave warm drinks such as cocoa and tea. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it won’t stay hydrated, and your skin shows it. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and more if you’re thirsty. If this doesn’t help, your home may need more moisture in the air. Try a humidifier.

Sunscreen is still vital.

Even though the sun may be hiding behind clouds during the winter, it doesn’t mean you can skip sunscreen. The sun can still damage your skin through the clouds and cause a psoriasis outbreak. If you love snow sports like skiing or snowshoeing, the glare can burn your skin and hurt your eyes—so don’t forget sunglasses! Be sure to carry sunscreen with you so you can reapply as necessary.

You may need a heavier moisturizer.

What worked well in the summer for moisturizing your face and body may not do the job during the winter months. If you love your moisturizer and don’t want to change, you may need to simply apply it more often during the day. Otherwise, look for a creamier moisturizer with more staying power. You might also consider using something like Bag Balm or coconut oil.

This tip will also help keep psoriasis flare-ups at bay, especially if you apply moisturizer liberally after baths and showers. Speaking of which . . .

Nix extra-hot showers and baths.

You love hot showers in the winter, but they’re actually doing more harm than good for your skin. The heat dissipates the oils in your skin, causing it to dry out and itch. If you do have itchy skin or a psoriasis outbreak, try a lukewarm oatmeal bath with plenty of non-allergenic moisturizer afterward.

Keep stress down.

Psoriasis, like most skin conditions, flares up when you’re under stress, and then the flare-up makes your stress worse. It’s a vicious cycle. Recognize your own early triggers of stress, and do what you can to reduce or prevent it, such as working out, meditating, or talking out your problems. If you’re facing breast reconstructive surgery, you’re already under stress, so you may experience a flare-up. If stress is an issue for you, contact your doctor for help.

What do you do to combat dry skin or psoriasis?


A Journey You Don’t Have to Take Alone

breast cancer survivor

Shirley's book cover

Dear Sister in this Journey,

My name is Shirley. I have just undergone a double mastectomy and breast reconstructive surgery as a result of having breast cancer. I am one of the fortunate ones who did not have to endure chemotherapy, as well.

My cancer was in my left breast, but I chose to have a double mastectomy to mitigate future risk of recurrence.  Based on the reputation and firsthand knowledge I had of Dr. Kline and Dr. Craigie, I chose the Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction to take care of my small, but precious bosoms.

Once the decision was made to move forward with bilateral DIEP reconstruction surgery, I was given a patient handbook that provided information about what to do pre and post surgery. No offense to the medical team that put together a technically comprehensive document, but boy did they leave out a lot of information that would have been helpful! The kinds of things that, really, only a patient would know.

So, I thought I’d write about my personal experiences to share with others—maybe it will help those who are about to undergo a DIEP reconstruction procedure to be more prepared and know more about what to expect. If you would like a copy of my booklet, get in touch with the center at, they’ll be happy to give you one.

It’s all from my perspective and I hope it helps in understanding what will happen. And I hope it helps keep others positive as they face the surgery.

Good luck on your Journey!

Most sincerely,

Shirley Trainor-Thomas

Breast Cancer Survivor

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Survivor

Reconstruction Success Story

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