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Woman with breast reconstruction: 'I'm back to the old me'

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Having a mastectomy does not mean that a cancer survivor has to live without breasts. Innovative new breast reconstruction techniques can ensure that women feel whole again, as Jackie Gladdy will tell you.

The 54-year-old mother of four recently underwent a native tissue breast reconstruction after living with a feeling of being less than whole, following a mastectomy in 2007.

Gladdy told the Evening Standard that losing her breasts was something of a shock for her. "I had a large bust so it was a big change when I had the mastectomy," she told the news source, adding that her desire to feel like herself again led her to pursue a deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap breast reconstruction.

This form of surgery harvests skin, fat and blood vessels from just beneath the navel, transplanting it to the site of the missing breast. One of the advantages of a such a procedure is that a woman gets a de facto tummy tuck in the bargain, Gladdy explained.

Her plastic surgeon, Dr. Ash Mosahebi, added that breast reconstructions that use a woman's own tissue also result in a bust that is more natural, so much so that it will expand or contract as a woman's weight changes.

DIEP flap surgery has certainly given Gladdy a new lease on life.

"It's changed my life. I never used to look in the mirror but now I do - it looks and feels so natural," she told the newspaper. "I'm back to the old me."

Annually, more than 93,000 U.S. women get breast reconstruction surgeries, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Of these operations, approximately 5,000 are DIEP flaps, the organization estimates.

Including all other flap-based procedures, though, native-tissue surgeries account for 18,000 American breast reconstructions each year.

Sources:

Cancer woman has new breast made from her tummy tissue. Evening Standard. December 9, 2011.
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24019568-cancer-woman-has-new-breast-made-from-her-tummy-tissue.do Accessed December 9, 2011.

Types of Breast Reconstruction. American Cancer Society. September 1, 2009. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/MoreInformation/BreastReconstructionAfterMastectomy/breast-reconstruction-after-mastectomy-types-of-br-recon Accessed December 9, 2011.

2010 Reconstructive Demographics. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2011. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2010-statisticss/Patient-Ages/2010-reconstructive-demographics-breast-surgery-statistics.pdf Accessed December 9, 2011. 

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