Skin-sparing mastectomy

Following a piece I read on another blog, I thought it might be helpful to tell you of the personal experience of someone who has undergone a skin-sparing mastectomy. Unusually, it is not the woman herself who is writing here, but her supportive husband!

Here is an extract from his blog Route 53, describing the procedure. It is beautifully written and will be of great benefit to anyone considering this option for reconstructive breast surgery.

“In truth as we’ve come to realize her skin-sparing mastectomy is still a relatively new thing in the world of breast cancer surgery.  While it does save your skin and is less traumatic for the survivor than we ever imagined, there is still quite a bit different from the traditional “Hollywood boob job”.  Skin-sparing mastectomy with immediate reconstruction has become popular with patients because, compared with delayed reconstruction, it improves the cosmetic result, reduces cost and anesthetic risk, and in one sitting completes most of the surgical treatment that the patient will ever require for treatment of her breast cancer.   Provided that the breast skin is not involved with or close to the tumor, physicians prefer to perform the mastectomy with optional removal of the nipple-areolar complex (total skin sparing) and the tumor biopsy scar.  The mastectomy is otherwise the same as a standard modified radical mastectomy with removal of all breast tissue and an axillary node dissection.   The part that is difficult for most patients is that so much tissue is removed that the breast becomea basically a large water balloon that holds a big bag of silicone, saline or whatever.  Because the skin is now so much thinner, it is hard to prevent wrinkling and rippling.  With so little tissue left, the breast can look a little misshapen at times.  That said, the results do look pretty good and like life small adjust ments will be needed.  Yes, this is the procedure that you hear for celebrities like Christina Applegate. 

I know many women don’t want to talk about this too publicly.  I mean, how can you complain when you think about the alternatives?  These women are so thankful yet feel so close to what they can see is the final visual end to their suffering.  All of this though is a change.  A change from what past generations had. Not only was life extended but the quality of that life has been improved. ”

Related Post: Reconstructive surgery: know your options