Breast Cancer Patients See and Feel Benefits of New Reconstruction Technique with No Muscle Cutting

Pre-Pectoral Breast Reconstruction Results in Less Pain, Easier Recovery and More Natural Looking Outcomes.

October 18, 2016

(Washington, D.C) Kelly Chapman, a school teacher from Alexandria, Virginia was 33 in the spring of 2016 when she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer.dsc_1194

Her treatment included a double mastectomy with a new reconstruction technique called pre-pectoral reconstruction that is easier on patients and results in a more natural-looking breast in the long term.

“I call this the ‘nearly painless’ breast reconstruction,” says Troy Pittman, MD, Chapman’s’ plastic and reconstructive surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.  “And it’s been a game changer for my mastectomy patients.”

dsc_1502With standard reconstruction after a mastectomy, the surgeon cuts the muscle that sits on the chest wall to create a pouch beneath the muscle in which to insert the implants.  

“With pre-pectoral reconstruction, we use a purified human skin product that supports the front of the implant and creates an internal bra to support the implant,” says Dr. Pittman.  “In some cases we can also use the nipple sparing technique so women can hardly tell they’ve had anything done to their breasts. My patients love this.”

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more women are choosing breast reconstruction after mastectomy.  The total number of breast reconstructions in 2015 was 106,338, an increase of four percent from 2014 and up 35-percent from 2000 when 78,800 women opted for breast reconstruction.  And plastic surgeons are performing more bilateral than unilateral procedures.img_1209

“I wasn’t in any pain at all,” recalls Chapman.  “I had some discomfort but overall I had the most incredible recovery.  I had my surgery at 2 in the afternoon, I was discharged the next morning and by that afternoon I was taking a walk with my husband around the neighborhood. I had my wisdom teeth out three weeks later and that was worse than my mastectomy and reconstruction.” 

“She came home with very little discomfort,” says Kelly’s husband Alex Chapman.  “The only thing she was missing was the cancer.”

Dr. Pittman says recovery from a traditional reconstruction is usually painful and that women can live with chronic soreness in their breasts for many years after their surgery.  He says many women also worry about the implant showing through the skin or of the breast appearing to flex with a woman’s movements because the outside of the newly-reconstructed breast is muscle.  

Chapman was delighted to discover when she woke up from surgery that surgeons were also able to use the nipple sparing technique for her mastectomy and reconstruction.  

img_0918“I was more pleased with my look and my appearance than I ever thought possible.  If you look at my breasts you’d never know what I’ve been through. I only have a small scar on the underside of my breasts and those scars are already fading away.

“The great news about this technique is that in addition to new breast cancer patients, I can also go back and revise the surgeries I performed the old way in years past, says Dr. Pittman.”

Kelly Chapman has been working hard on her recovery by working out each day with weight lifting, stretching and walking.  She’s also been keeping a positive attitude.

“Cancer has taken away certain things from me, but I get to choose how much ‘cancer sucks’ and every day I try to find something to be positive about. This surgery is one of those things,” says Chapman.  

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Meet Dr. Pittman