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Breast reconstruction surgery for cancer survivors

Updated breast implants.

In this Sinclair Cares report Michelle Marsh explores the 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.

Chapman said, "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"

She also opted for immediate breast reconstruction at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital using a technique Dr. Troy Pittman, a reconstructive surgeon, calls a, "game changer."

Pittman said, "I call it the ‘near painless breast reconstruction.’"

Rather than put the implant under the muscle the traditional way, it's placed over the muscle.

He said, "Putting the implants on top of the muscle- not dividing the muscle from the rib cage, completely changes the patient's pain level."

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.

She said, “"They weren't my usual fast pace but they were definitely walks that didn't involve any pain"

Alex Chapman, Kelly’s husband, said, "She was able to come home like the day she left before absent one thing- that's the cancer was removed looking like herself, feeling like herself."

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.

Pittman said, "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."

Three months after surgery, Kelly is in the midst of chemotherapy, but feeling great.

She said, “It has been such an awakening of what love is, what true friendship is, and what really matters."

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