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Survivors Have Many Options for Breast Cancer Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction specialist Peter Ashjian, MD brings expertise, experience, and compassion to the Beverly Hills Physicians medical network

LOS ANGELES, March, 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Not every woman will choose or be a good candidate for breast cancer reconstruction following treatment; however, for many, it can be a welcome return to normalcy and preserve femininity. In these cases, Peter Ashjian, MD of Beverly Hills Physicians believes that breast cancer patients should meet with a plastic surgeon while discussing treatment with their oncologist. Through cooperation with the oncologist and recent advances in tissue grafting and breast implants in Beverly Hills, Dr. Ashjian can successfully minimize the number of surgeries a survivor will have to undergo.

Working with Beverly Hills Physicians, Dr. Ashjian can work alongside a patient and their oncologist to determine the most appropriate approach to breast cancer reconstruction. It is not a one-size-fits-all procedure, often depending on the type of cancer treatment performed and a compassion for the patient's wishes. Luckily, insurance will most often cover breast cancer reconstruction, no matter the technique. Below are Dr. Ashjian's techniques and thoughts by treatment method:

Lumpectomy

Also known as breast-conserving therapy, this technique removes only the cancer tumor and "is often combined with radiation therapy," says Dr. Ashjian. Breast reconstruction in these cases is primarily concerned with restoring symmetry to the breasts, which become deformed through removal of tissue.

Dr. Ashjian doesn't recommend implant-based reconstruction here, due to increased risk of complications. Instead, he believes grafting fat from another area of the body is the most appropriate tactic, noting that it "has been proven to be safe and effective even in the breast that has been radiated." He does note that multiple sessions may be required for best results.

Alternatively, a non-cancerous breast may be modified (through a breast lift or breast reduction) to restore balance. These procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis at Beverly Hills Physicians.

Mastectomy

"Breast-conserving therapy is not for everyone, and in some cases a mastectomy can lead to a better cosmetic result when combined with the latest state-of-the-art techniques in breast reconstructive surgery," says Dr. Ashjian. There are two courses of action here: implant-based reconstruction and tissue-based reconstruction.

After the complete removal of one or both breasts, saline or silicone breast implants can restore the shape and volume of the breast. This is the most common choice following a mastectomy. Immediately after the procedure, Dr. Ashjian will place a tissue expander or the implant itself, depending on the patient's suitability. If only one breast was removed, then a breast lift or reduction of the non-cancerous breast may also occur to provide symmetry. The benefits here are better cosmetic results, fewer operations, and "significant psychological benefit if a woman does not have to experience the deformity of a mastectomy without reconstruction."

Women may choose, alternatively, to not have implant-based reconstruction, whether due to personal preferences or physical incompatibility. Here, autologous tissue reconstruction can bring skin and fat from another part of the body to recreate the breast. This technique may be called a TRAM, DIEP, or tummy tuck flap. Dr. Ashjian, most commonly, will remove the same tissue as a tummy tuck in Beverly Hills Physicians' facilities to replace the breast. Like implant-based reconstruction, this "can be performed immediately at the time of the mastectomy or in a delayed fashion, months to years after a mastectomy."

Implant-Related Complications

Unfortunately, women may have issues with their implants following a mastectomy. Dr. Ashjian notes that common problems can include "implant rippling, hardening, bottoming-out, malposition, symmastia (implant too close to the sternum), and rupture." The revision specialists at Beverly Hills Physicians are more than qualified to handle this corrective procedure by performing one of the procedures above, using an acellular dermal matrix, or replacing the implant with the "gummy bear" silicone implants.

Breast Cancer Reconstruction with Beverly Hills Physicians

There are other variables, as well, that need to be discussed with the surgeon. The question of preservation versus reconstruction of the nipple/areola complex (NAC) deserves reflection, for example. Careful planning can also allow Dr. Ashjian to perform some procedures as a single-stage operation.

If you're looking for state-of-the-art breast cancer reconstruction with compassionate board-certified surgeons, give Beverly Hills Physicians a call. They can be reached at 800-788-1416 or through a consultation form at www.beverlyhillsphysicians.com.

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SOURCE Beverly Hills Physicians

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