New Breast Reconstruction Technique:
Less Pain, Easier Recovery and More Natural-Looking Outcomes
October 18, 2016
(Washington, D.C) Kelly Chapman, a school teacher from Alexandria, Va., was 33 in the spring of 2016 when she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. When she and her physicians decided that the best course of treatment would include a double mastectomy, she was presented with a new reconstruction technique that promised an easier recovery and a more natural-looking result.
“The technique is called the pre-pectoral reconstruction,” says Troy Pittman, MD, Kelly’s plastic and reconstructive surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. “I often call it the ‘nearly painless’ breast reconstruction. It has been a game-changer for my mastectomy patients.”
With 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.
“The great news about this technique is that in addition to helping newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, I can also go back and revise surgeries I performed the old way in years past,” says Dr. Pittman.
He says recovery from a traditional reconstruction can be very painful and that some women can live with chronic soreness in their breasts for many years after surgery. With the new technique, recovery is easier on the patient.
“I had some discomfort after my procedure but wasn’t in any significant pain,” Kelly recalls. “I had my wisdom teeth out three weeks later, and that was worse than my mastectomy and reconstruction!”
In some cases, physicians can also use the nipple-sparing technique. “Women can hardly tell they’ve had anything done to their breasts,” he says. “With Kelly, we were able to use the technique and give her a real-looking outcome.”
“I was more pleased with my appearance than I ever thought possible,” she says. “I only have a small scar on the underside of each breast, and they are already starting to fade.”
Kelly has been working hard on her recovery, working out each day, stretching and walking, and 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,” Kelly says. “This surgery has been one of those things.”
For more information about breast reconstruction and the new technique offered at MedStar Georgetown, visit MedStarGeorgetown.org/Prepectoral or call 202-444-8751 to make an appointment.
Meet Dr. Pittman
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