TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA, October 2015 — Women across the Southeast are reminded that October is breast cancer awareness month and the annual observance serves as a reminder to schedule and have a mammogram screening. In 2015, an estimated 230,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis comes with an emotional and physical toll even though great strides have been made in understanding and treating the disease.
Ben J. Kirbo, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Southeastern Plastic Surgery in Tallahassee, said, “Women are so selfless. They’ve just received the most horrific diagnosis, and their heads are swirling with the decisions to make while worrying about their spouse, their children and often a fulltime job.
“At Southeastern Plastic Surgery, we strive to make decisions less overwhelming for our patients and help get them back in control and understand they do not need to be rushed into making a decision. In our practice, we set up appointments for breast cancer patients within 72 hours but more often, we try to see them the same day they call.
“The sooner we can see the patient, the sooner we can answer questions and lessen their turmoil,” he said.
New techniques and devices available today make it possible to create a breast that closely resembles the form and appearance of the natural breast. In some cases, women choose to conserve their breast by having a lumpectomy or segmental mastectomy.
While reconstruction is possible immediately following a mastectomy or breast removal, some patients prefer to wait. Other considerations include immediate reconstruction or delaying reconstruction, which may be selected by women undergoing radiation treatment.
Patient lifestyle and physical makeup contribute to the available options. The physicians evaluate an individual’s health, stage of breast cancer, the amount of tissue available, which varies with a patient’s size and helps patients evaluate their lifestyle to help guide them to make the decision.
“If a woman has enough tissue, one of the best options is to use her own tissue,” said Dr. Kirbo.
Some women prefer implants, and the most common implant today is a saline-filled implant. Silicone gel-filled implants are used less often than they were in the past because of concerns about silicone leakage.
Dr. Chris DeRosier, board-certified plastic surgeon at Southeastern Plastic Surgery, trained in microsurgery and his experience in free tissue breast reconstruction (Free TRAM and DIEP flaps) is unique in the area.
The TRAM flap procedure can be shorter and less complex for patients compared to other flap procedures. In the TRAM flap procedure, the tissue is attached to its original site, keeping its blood supply. The flap, which includes the skin, fat and muscle, is tunneled under the skin of the chest and creates a pocket for an implant and sometimes for creating the breast mound.
The DIEP flap procedure includes the skin and tissue but no muscle and is taken from abdomen. This can be an appealing option since the reconstruction involves using the patient’s own tissues. Often the risks of implant reconstruction can be avoided, which can be helpful during radiation.
The surgeons at Southeastern Plastic Surgery provide patients with many options that can occur at the same times as surgery to remove the cancer or a staged reconstruction where reconstruction includes placement of temporary tissue expansion or reconstruction can be delayed until after all the cancer treatment is completed.
While some surgical procedures can be completed at Southeastern Plastic Surgery, which has its own licensed surgical suite, sometimes local hospitalization may be required.
Breast cancer options today have advanced considerably, but as Dr. Kirbo emphasizes, “You cannot minimize the importance of self exams and routine screenings. We remind and reinforce with all of our patients to conduct daily home self exams.”
To learn more about the breast reconstruction options available, visit www.se-plasticsurgery.com or Facebook and call Southeastern Plastic Surgery at 850-219-2000 today to schedule a consultation.