Nearly 150,000 women will undergo mastectomy this year due to breast cancer. However, 7 out of 10 women are never told of their breast reconstruction options.1
Close the loop on breast cancer
As an academic medical center with the support of a leading-edge cancer center, the plastic surgery team at The University of Kansas Health System is part of your comprehensive care team at the onset of your medical journey. We ensure that every patient knows their breast reconstruction options. Second opinions and patient-initiated plastic surgery consultations are also routinely provided and encouraged.
From implant-based and tissue-based reconstruction to nipple areola and surgical lymphedema treatment, our nationally recognized, board-certified physicians offer the most comprehensive reconstruction services to help make women whole again.
Jane Ann Williams: Right at Thanksgiving in 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The first thing you think of is, "I'm going to die." That's the first thing you think of.
Jane Ann Williams: I had my double mastectomy, Cinco de Mayo of 2006.
Dr. Michelle De Souza: They already have the thought process going through their head that, "I know I have breast cancer, I know my breasts may need to be partially removed or completely removed," and they're thinking, "What's the next step? How can I get my breasts back again?"
Jane Ann Williams: It's Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. It's a promotion by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to help consumers know about breast reconstruction.
Jane Ann Williams: You just don't realize. You think people get implants after they have a double mastectomy but you don't think about how it's going to take place.
Dr. Michelle De Souza: The first step we talk about is tissue expansion, which involves putting the tissue expander in to help establish a breast space again, and we'll continue to inflate that expander in the office over the next several weeks, which will reestablish the breast space. Then from there, we can remove the expander and put implants in or tissue based reconstruction, all depending on the patient's choice and some of their treatment options.
Dr. Michelle De Souza: At the very end of all of their steps of reconstruction, we'll do a nipple and areola reconstruction if they want. That actually is kind of the last step that signifies the breast is done.
Jane Ann Williams: They had to take my nipples. When I got the tattooing, that's when I felt the most complete. When I looked at him, I broke down and my cried because I looked like myself again. Here I am 18 months later and it's like it's really never happened.
Dr. Michelle De Souza: We get to reconstruct people to make them whole again.
Jane Ann Williams: There is definitely life after mastectomy.
Breast reconstruction techniques
The University of Kansas Health System offers all forms of breast reconstruction. This includes both delayed breast reconstruction and immediate oncoplastic breast reconstruction surgery. Your surgeon and care team can help you determine which technique is right for you.
Nurse: Are you ready?
Nurse: Good. I think so.
Narrator: Women who undergo mastectomies have many options these days for breast reconstruction, but may not know it.
Ramona Farris: There are laws that we are protected as women, that we have a right to be made whole where we were prior to having breast cancer.
Narrator: That hasn't always been the case.
Dr. James Butterworth: Up until not that long ago, the majority of women that underwent mastectomies were not having reconstruction performed.
Narrator: Awareness about options and insurance were low. Now, more women are learning to ask their doctor about reconstruction options.
Dr. James Butterworth: We tend to think about them in two large headings. One is using implants, and then the other is using your own tissue. In terms of using your own tissue, those are a little more involved operations, in which it's a transplant of tissue from one area of your body to the breast, or to the chest wall to recreate the breast.
Narrator: When transplanting the tissue, the surgeon carefully connects blood vessels in an operation that can last eight hours. With implants, the surgeon inserts what's called the tissue expander at the time of the mastectomy.
Dr. James Butterworth: Over the course of the weeks following the surgery, we are able to expand either back out to the size that they were initially, or even larger if that's the goal.
Ramona Farris: There are so many different options. It really is dependent upon you as an individual, what works best for you, and being aware of all the options.
Dr. James Butterworth: We hope that the days of women having mastectomies and then going home with no reconstruction, feeling shame or having self-image issues are going to go by the wayside.
Lymphedema prevention and treatment options
Referring providers and patients also have access to the region’s only surgical lymphedema treatment program. Following treatment for breast cancer, some patients may be monitored for lymphedema, swelling of an arm following removal of a lymph node(s). Prevention clinics are available as well as surgical treatment. Our Lymphedema Q&A and series of 8 videos with Dr. James Butterworth will help you learn the causes of lymphedema and treatment options.
Choose The University of Kansas Health System
More women choose The University of Kansas Health System for their breast reconstruction care than anywhere in the Kansas City area. Seven dedicated breast reconstruction surgeons, four experienced surgical nurses and a reconstructive microsurgery team support your care at two convenient locations. In tandem with an entire plastic surgery team, The University of Kansas Physicians, subspecialized and fellowship-trained, support your care and meet your needs. Our hospital is recognized by U.S. News & World Report, is staffed by Magnet-designated nurses, is celebrated by various patient reviews and is dedicated to the art of making each woman feel whole again.
Lori Baerg: Our oldest son was just about to go to college. I was diagnosed a week before he left. Talk about emotional, you're getting ready to go through something significant.
Richard Korentager: The surgery to take care of the breast cancer can be significantly disfiguring to women.
Lori Baerg: I didn't want to look in the mirror and have a reminder that I had gone through cancer.
Richard Korentager: BRA Day refers to Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. The goal of BRA Day is to raise awareness that there are options available. It doesn't mean that we're saying everybody should undergo reconstruction, but we want every woman to be given the opportunity to make their own decision as to whether it's the right choice for them.
Lori Baerg: I look at everything. I had a mastectomy, and then I had the DIEP procedure. They did take the tissue from my abdomen and put that up into my breast. My experience from going through DIEP is that I now get to experience the joy that I look almost normal again.
Richard Korentager: As reconstructive plastic surgeons, our goal is to, as much as possible, make people whole.
Lori Baerg: For the next generation of women, if we can educate them and all the things that they need to know that we're going to help remove the fear associated with breast cancer. That's why this education is so vitally important.
For more information
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and The Plastic Surgery Foundation (PSF) lead the Breast Reconstruction Awareness USA Campaign, one of the few breast cancer campaigns dedicated to building awareness around breast reconstruction options. The plastic surgery team at The University of Kansas Health System actively supports these campaigns.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons ASPS