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In breast reconstruction, the ultimate goal is to recreate a breast that is as close as possible to the remaining breast. Perfect symmetry is naturally impossible. Even in situations where the reconstructed breast may be somewhat “similar” to the remaining breast in appearance in the immediate postoperative period, the two sides will invariably change or age differently over time, thereby increasing the differences.

Women who have undergone bilateral mastectomies inherently have better odds of obtaining symmetry in their breast reconstruction. Why? The reason is that they are often starting with similar deformities on each side, thereby allowing for the same reconstructive technique to be utilized for both breasts. This is true whether reconstruction is performed with the simple insertion of implants, usage of tissue expanders or with flaps such as a TRAM flap.

One notable caveat to this is if one side had been irradiated as an adjunct treatment of the breast cancer.  As I noted in an earlier post (Problems With Tissue Expansion Breast Reconstruction In Previously Irradiated Tissue), the ionizing effects of the radiation treatments damages the skin resulting in scarring, thickening, increased rigidity and less suppleness of the tissues which often also show visual signs of the damage. This translates into tissue that is more resistant to the stretching that is necessary with tissue expansion breast reconstruction as well as breasts that often feel quite rigid or hard.

The following case illustrates this exact scenario. The patient underwent a bilateral mastectomy with radiation subsequently performed on the left side. In the photos, you may be able to appreciate the slightly darker color and firmness of the skin.

a.) Bilateral mastectomies with left breast irradiation. Pre-op

b.) Bilateral mastectomies with left breast irradiation. Post-op insertion and inflation of tissue expanders

c). Pre-op

d.) Post-op insertion and inflation of tissue expanders

e.) Pre-op

f.) Post-op insertion and inflation of tissue expanders

She elected to undergo bilateral breast reconstruction using tissue expanders. Despite using identical tissue expanders, there is a significant difference in appearance between the two sides. Ironically, though the irradiated left side is inflated with more saline than the right, it actually appears less voluminous. That is an effect of the radiation damage.

If you would like to obtain additional information on breast reconstruction, breast implants or any other plastic surgery procedure that I perform or to schedule a consultation, you can contact my office at 480-451-3000.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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A Message Regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19

In light of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to let you know of some of the major precautions we are taking in our office to maximize cleanliness and keep the environment as sanitary and safe as possible. Our highest priority is always to ensure the safety of every individual who sees us and we are taking extreme infection-control measures to maintain cleanliness and “sterility” of surfaces and the overall environment.

We will be limiting dates and times for office appointments and consultations due to safety and other issues. Consequently, if you have already made an office appointment or consultation prior to March 18, 2020 to occur at a later time, this may need to be changed.

For anyone considering plastic surgery, we are now offering Virtual Consultations and Telemedicine through Skype. A great number of aesthetic or insurance-related issues can be evaluated via pictures and online video conferencing, making this an excellent way to find out more about particular procedures, determine candidacy for treatment, receive answers to questions and facilitate being able to move forward with care once the government lifts all restrictions.

In an abundance of caution, we are asking all current patients who are experiencing a fever, cough, chills, fatigue or any type of respiratory illness to please delay any upcoming appointments at our practice. We can talk with you by phone or email to establish a new date and time for the appointment.

We are all in this together. Our team urges everyone to follow the guidelines recommended by local health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include frequent handwashing for a minimum of 20 seconds, social distancing, staying home if you are feeling sick, and contacting your healthcare provider if you feel you are experiencing symptoms.

For more information, please read our blog – Coronavirus and You: Important Information

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