Angelina Jolie – Prophylactic Mastectomy with Reconstruction Using Breast Implants
So you have probably all heard by now that Angelina Jolie was diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene and has undergone a double mastectomy with reconstruction. The actress and director wrote a very poignant, well-written op-ed for the New York Times. Here is a segment of it:
On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.
Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.
Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.
I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.
I applaud Angelina for coming forward and revealing her diagnosis and treatment. Hopefully this helps to inform people not only about the potential diagnosis and treatment options for breast cancer, but also inform women about their reconstructive options. Studies show that women who undergo immediate reconstruction after mastectomy benefit psychologically a great deal.
To read the rest of Angelina Jolie’s op-ed piece, click HERE.
If you’ve ever wondered how plastic surgeons reconstruct a woman’s breast after mastectomy, there is a very well-written article in CNN.com HERE. I’m quoted in the article, which also describes how Angelina’s reconstruction was likely performed.
Photo credit: prphotos.com