Jennifer Tittensor, MD, explains how breast reconstructive surgery works and just how far it has advanced. Dr. Tittensor also discuss common questions and concerns of patients who are undergoing breast surgery.
I’m Dr. Jennifer Tittensor. I’m a surgeon here in Utah County. The majority of my practice is breast related surgery. I do benign breast biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies, lymph node biopsies and port placements for people who need chemotherapy. There’s been a lot of advances in mastectomy surgery. The mastectomies of old days where muscles were removed and every one ended up with lymphedema or a swollen arm are long gone.
We now almost always can offer patients immediate reconstruction with mastectomy surgery where the plastic surgeon comes in right at the same operation and places an implant or does a muscle flap so that when she wakes up there’s something there,right from the get go. Usually there’s further procedures down the road. We’ve got great pain medicine and little devices that infuse local anesthesia that help with post op pain control.
There’s a very important aspect of the treatment in the support and emotional side. It’s not just surgery. I think it’s very important to assess that patient’s comfort level with what’s happening,what support she has at home and if there’s any question about whether or not she needs things. We again have that support group and my staff is there to help with that. No question about it, breast cancer’s a scary diagnosis.
People come to my office very afraid typically,and most of the the fear is the unknown. They don’t know what it means, they don’t know if they’re going to die,they don’t know what surgery they need. Usually by the end of the office visit they have a much better idea of what’s coming. We talk about the details of their biopsy, we discuss surgery options, we make referring appointments if they need chemotherapy and questions are answered. While there still is a long road ahead at the end of that appointment, I think there’s a calming sense just because they know it’s going to be okay and what steps need to be taken.