Nearly painless breast reconstruction surgery method offers faster recovery
There's now an option for breast cancer patients to have so-called "nearly painless breast reconstruction."
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in June, Kelly Chapman chose to have a bilateral mastectomy right away.
"I wanted to do as much as I could to make sure I have the best fighting chance of it not coming back later on,” Kelly said.
She also opted for immediate breast reconstruction at a technique Dr. Troy Pittman calls a "game changer."
"I call it the near painless breast reconstruction,” Dr. Pittman said.
Rather than put the implant under the muscle the traditional way, it's placed over the muscle.
"Putting the implants on top of the muscle - not dividing the muscle from the rib cage, completely changes the patient's pain level," Dr. Pittman said.
Meaning there's significantly less pain- and a faster recovery.
Kelly went home the morning after surgery and for long walks every day that week.
"They weren't my usual fast pace, but they were definitely walks that didn't involve any pain." Kelly said.
The procedure carries risks like infection, bleeding, implant rupture and rotation, but Dr. Pittman says those are rare.
He adds that cosmetic results are improved thanks to newer more natural looking "shaped implants" that don't ripple under the skin and patients' breasts don't look flexed, like after traditional reconstruction.
"If you've ever seen a body builder flex their muscles and their chest bounces, we see that with implants that are under the muscle," Dr. Pittman said.
Three months after surgery, Kelly is in the midst of chemotherapy, but feeling great.
"It has been such an awakening of what love is, what true friendship is, and what really matters," Kelly said.
Since last year, Dr. Pittman performed it on three dozen patients at Georgetown.
A third of those patients -- were women seeking "redos" after suffering from chronic pain. The procedure is covered by insurance.