Cancer Survivor regrets lack of restoration.

Lumpectomy Self-Shaming

Altiora Plastic Surgery and Med Spa respectfully dedicate this two-part lumpectomy blog article to you if you are a breast cancer survivor or have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Moreover, if you endured a lumpectomy years ago or if you are considering one in the near future, this topic should be of significant interest to you.

Lumpectomy:  Definition and Introducing an Altiora Plastic Surgery Mini-Case-Study

A lumpectomy is a surgical procedure used to treat breast cancer.  This procedure removes “cancer while leaving as much of the breast intact as possible.  Some surrounding healthy tissue and lymph nodes are usually also removed.  It’s often an option for a woman with early-stage cancer and allows her to keep most of her breast.”

At this point, we would like to introduce you to Susan.  Susan is a healthy breast cancer survivor.  She is 43 years of age.  A few years ago, our mini-case-study, Susan made a choice in the treatment of her breast cancer.  Instead of mastectomy, she chose lumpectomy.  At the time it sounded like a good option for her.

Lumpectomy:  No Longer a “Like it or Lump It Situation”

There are many variations on lumpectomies.  By definition, a lumpectomy or Breast Conservation Surgery might entail:

  1.  A relatively small biopsy,
  2.  Actually a partial mastectomy,
  3.  A wedge resection,
  4.  Excision of a quarter of the breast.

Needless to say, every case and every patient present a new challenge to the plastic surgeon.  But in recent years, many strides have been made in breast reconstruction.  This includes, after lumpectomy as well as in the initial surgery.

Of course, for Susan, the reason she preferred lumpectomy to mastectomy was obvious.  “The benefit of the surgery is that only part of the breast is removed…”  What she did not anticipate was her own dismaying reaction to the appearance of her breast as she dressed every day.  The years were not kind to her breast disfigurement.  She knew the life-saving surgery changed her life for the better.  However, she also knew, she lacked that feeling of “wholeness.”  Even years later, she felt the disfigurement marred her self-confidence.

Time and age made the breast appear even more disfigured, misshapen and miss-matched.  Missing 25 percent of its tissue, the breast looked deeply indented and, in her word, “pot-holed.”  Even worse, it was a different size, shape and level compared to the other breast.  This was not simply because of the surgery.  Like many lumpectomy patients, Susan also took radiation treatment.

Radiation Effects On Breast Tissue

Most patients who elect lumpectomy over mastectomy must also take radiation treatments.  Soon, they discover the effects of radiation on the breast.  These may include:

Lumpectomy scarring and hardening can be helped with surgery.

Rose Petals can not really hide the scars of cancer and lumpectomy. 

  • Radiation treatments which can cause ”shrinkage of the breast and contribute to some of the breast asymmetry.”
  • Side effects do not happen to the same degree in every case of radiation treatment.  However, it is undeniable that permanent changes occur to normal breast tissue.  Sometimes the delicate tissue hardens.
  • In some cases, skin and tissue lose their soft elasticity, and patients complain of uncomfortable tightness.  However, today’s skilled plastic surgeons can relieve some of the tightening, scarring and hardening.  They may use artful fat injections or tissues taken from other areas of the patient’s body.

The Art of Breast Reconstruction

Find out more about today’s reconstruction procedures at a friendly online breast reconstruction resource, I’m Taking Charge.  This source explains some of the details with a minimum of medical terminology.

Now Altiora Plastic Surgery and Med Spa introduces a possibly new term to you:  oncoplastic surgery.  Oncoplastic combines the onco from the word oncology referring to cancer study, with the word plastic, as in plastic surgery.  An oncoplastic procedure combines the best of techniques to remove cancer and to reconstruct the breast in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

Self Confidence, Well-Being and A Sense of Wholeness

Likewise, reconstruction can restore more normal appearance to older lumpectomy cases like our-mini-case-study, Susan’s.  We will be bringing you more information on different types of reconstructive breast surgery after lumpectomy.  But, first, let’s look at a little more background:

Lumpectomy and a New Aesthetic Sensitivity–If You Face Susan’s Decision Today

Susan doesn’t blame her oncologist or surgeon.  She cherished her life-saving surgery.  However, Susan recently read about many improvements made by plastic surgeons in breast reconstruction. Many of these have occurred in the last few years.  She has discovered there are now elegant new oncoplastic techniques to prevent deformities like hers.  Had the options been available and explained to her several years ago, she would probably be happier with her lumpectomy decision and the appearance of her breast.

Lumpectomy Blues

Saddened by her disfigurement, Susan read,“After lumpectomy or breast conservation surgery, plastic surgeons are now approaching the challenge of misshapen breasts by immediately remodeling the breast with remaining breast tissue or tissue taken from another area of the body.  The result is a more natural looking breast that is more symmetrical with the unaffected breast.”

Breast restoration surgery can boost self confidence.

Breast restoration can help some cancer   patients feel normal again.

But Susan wondered if she could expect plastic surgery to restore her breast to a more normal, pleasing appearance after several years.  She thought about how she would like to celebrate looking as healthy as she felt.

Additionally, Susan believed such surgery would build her confidence and help her finally find closure in the cancer chapter of her life.

Next week, visit us here again at the Altiora Plastic Surgery and Med Spa blog.  In the future, this blogyou cover more of Susan’s story, through her consultation and restoration.

Once again, we remind you that reconstructive plastic surgery such as the procedures described in this series of blogs, cannot be performed by all doctors who call themselves “cosmetic surgeons.”  Invest your trust only with Board-certified Plastic Surgeons.  Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery assures you they, like the surgeons at Altiora, have excelled in training and surgical experience.  Plus you will be reassured they have attained hospital privileges if a need for hospitalization arises.

Also, keep in mind that our mini-case-studies are creatively composed to demonstrate the experiences of many patients in articles such as this one.  We would never compromise a patient’s confidentiality.