PREVENTATIVE MASTECTOMY AND GENETIC TESTING FOR BREAST CANCER

by

As I greeted my breast reconstruction patient yesterday morning she casually looked up at me and said, “I’m just like Angelina Jolie!” I hadn’t yet heard the morning news yet discussing Angelina’s decision to have a bilateral mastectomy with breast reconstruction for a genetic susceptibility to breast cancer so I replied to her husband that clearly that makes him “Brad Pitt” with a smile.

All joking aside, at Synergy Plastic Surgery we pride ourselves as being active members of the breast cancer community. I am a founding member of the Breast Cancer Resource Center’s Lotus Circle, and actively treat women who need emergency breast cancer treatment and reconstruction. On a daily basis we pride ourselves as welcoming breast cancer patients into our “Synergy Family” and giving them the most current and reliable techniques available to rebuild their bodies after mastectomy.

Preventative mastectomy for patients like Angelina Jolie is becoming more popular. Using nipple sparing techniques we can often achieve a beautiful breast in only one or two short operations. The result using implants can be very similar to the appearance of a breast augmentation patient in the right person. A mastectomy done for a gene positive patient is known to reduce the overall lifetime risk for developing breast cancer. In Jolie’s case it brought her risk from approximately 87% risk of developing cancer to only a 5% risk. According to her disclosure in the NY times and a NBC article, Jolie had a mutation of the BRCA1 gene, which raises the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.

I have reconstructed multiple generations of women who are all in the same family and carriers of the BRCA1 gene, and one of my recent younger patients just got married and looked stunning in her wedding dress with a beautiful figure and hopefully a better chance of growing old with her new husband. Many different options are available to tailor the result to each individual patient’s anatomy and we can customize the surgery based on your age, weight, breast size, and medical needs.

Preventative mastectomy takes the right combination of plastic surgery and general surgery to achieve an excellent result. Some patients are able to go directly to a breast implant and skip a tissue expander, other patients would like to change the shape or size of their breasts and this is also possible but typically involves at least two short surgeries. I incorporate the latest techniques for breast reconstruction in my practice in order to ensure each patient gets the best results possible for their body. We can also refer patients to general surgeons who are familiar with the latest nipple sparing techniques to get a more natural result.
Article by
Austin Plastic Surgeon