August 23, 2011 2:56PM
JOLIET — Breast cancer is a devastating disease, affecting more than 254,000 American women each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
The emotional and physical results are different now from what they were in the past. New kinds of treatments as well as improved reconstructive surgery options mean that women who have breast cancer today have better choices.
Reconstructive breast surgery restores the breast’s appearance after a mastectomy. Surgery can rebuild the shape of the breast(s) using artificial implants or tissue from other parts of the body. Women choose breast reconstruction for many reasons, including:
To make their breasts look balanced when they are wearing a bra
To permanently regain their breast shape
So they don’t have to use a form that fits inside the bra (an external prosthesis)
There are often many options to think about when contemplating breast reconstruction, including when to start any treatment. Immediate breast reconstruction is done at the same time as the mastectomy. An advantage to this is that the chest tissues are not damaged by radiation therapy or scarring, which often means that the final result looks better. Also, immediate reconstruction means less surgery. After the first surgery, there still may be a number of steps that are needed to complete the immediate reconstruction process.
If you are planning to have immediate reconstruction, be sure to ask what will need to be done afterward and how long it will take. Delayed breast reconstruction means that the rebuilding is started later.
“It is so important to have a discussion about reconstructive breast surgery with your doctor and a plastic surgeon before a mastectomy,” said Dr. Roxanne Sylora, plastic and reconstructive surgeon on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. “The plan is different for every woman and there are many options available depending on a patient’s preferences, size and shape of breasts, details of the cancer diagnosis, and involvement with radiation. These are all important factors when creating the right treatment plan for a patient.”
Sylora graduated from the University of Illinois Medical School, and began general surgery training at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago. She completed her plastic surgery residency at Wayne State University School of Medicine. She then completed a breast and aesthetic (cosmetic) fellowship at The Institute for Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tenn.
The Herald News / Chicago