When a woman receives the stressful news that she is diagnosed with breast cancer, she is saturated with critically
important information and faces many choices. These choices include mastectomy, lumpectomy with radiation therapy, adjuvant
chemotherapy and possible long term hormonal therapy.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, important decisions need to be made regarding treatment. In addition, breast
cancer patients will benefit from a timely consultation at the Wetherington Plastic Surgery Center.
Dr. Wetherington is on the surgical staff at Redmond Regional Medical Center, Floyd Medical Center, Cartersville
Medical Center and Gordon Hospital. He will work seamlessly with any of the general surgeons at these institutions to
provide the breast cancer patient with an array of reconstructive options.
The term "Breast Reconstruction" refers to a series of procedures designed to meet the soft tissue needs of a
particular patient. The ultimate goal of breast reconstruction is to help the patient achieve symmetry, balance and
improved self-esteem. Each patient has a unique set of circumstances which include her type of cancer treatment, the
shape and size of her opposite breast, previous surgical procedures and her ultimate goal and expectations for the
In many patients the reconstructive process can be started at the same time as her mastectomy and is referred to as
"immediate breast reconstruction". For those patients who require radiation or chemotherapy, it is preferable to postpone
the reconstruction until completion of treatment. This is referred to as "delayed breast reconstruction."
When the patient has adequate soft tissue available, one popular method of reconstruction involves placement of a tissue
expander under her pectoral muscle. During weekly office visits, saline is injected into this device and a new breast mound
is developed at the mastectomy site. In a few months, the tissue expander is removed, and a reconstructive breast implant
is placed in the area.
On the other hand, when either local soft tissue is insufficient or radiation treatment makes this option less optimal,
local flaps of skin, fat and muscle can be moved into the area to create a new breast. The most common types of these flaps
include either tissue from the lower abdomen or tissue from the area below the shoulder on the back.
Once the breast mound has been restored, the nipple-areola is reconstructed. In order to achieve symmetry, additional
procedures may be required on the opposite breast. All of these procedures are usually covered by health insurance plans.
Patients who have completed breast reconstruction usually experience a sense of restored wholeness and improved self-esteem.