All I want for Christmas is my two front….implants

Posted by in Blog, Looking Good, Procedures, Surgery | 0 comments

As the former director of French breast-prosthesis company Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP) contemplates the hefty jail sentence that he and his cohorts have just received for selling defective breast implants around the world, it may be time for a closer look at implants and how best to live with them. A breast implant is not just for Christmas – it’s a long term commitment, yet not a “happily ever after” that you have done and never have to bother with again. In recent years, encouraged by the “extreme make-over” culture, the eye-popping silicone-enhanced bosoms of squadrons of celebs and the greater affordability of cosmetic procedures, breast enhancement has taken off in unprecedented ways. Not everyone is thrilled with this, however. Last year a survey in Britain showed a high level of concern about the marketing of “cut price” surgery: “The proliferation of advertising for cosmetic surgery and its use in TV make-over programmes was felt to trivialise surgery and its risks, while making excessive claims of its impact on people’s emotional well-being” – Sir Bruce Keogh, summarising responses from the public in December 2012. For women undertaking surgery for cancer, the situation can be even more difficult. After all, cancer did not wait for you to choose a ‘new look’ or even to research the options. Cancer restructures you without permission! The fact is that women’s bodies, especially our breasts, are an emotive issue – not only for individuals but for society in general. The only people with a simple attitude to the female breast are breast-fed babies, for whom the breast is comfort and survival. For the rest of us, it’s complicated…. Controversy over dangers posed by silicone implants, whether sub-standard or not, continues to rattle around the blogosphere. On the one hand, a recently released research report found no scientific evidence that silicone gel is more than a nuisance factor, even if it leaks into local tissue and/or is transported away from the breast. Women, however, are unique individuals and complex, unexpected emotions can follow breast implantation including constant irritating awareness of the implants, anxiety, breast pain and difficulty sleeping (especially if you are a stomach or side sleeper). Symptoms such as pain must be taken seriously because it could be a low grade infection (see below). Saline (salt water) implants are an alternative to silicone, but they are prone to collapse and don’t feel like natural breast tissue, which makes them less popular with breast surgery patients. So what is a woman to do? Cosmetically, the results of early breast reconstruction can be excellent, which is a huge help in getting your confidence back after a cancer scare. And, the world is what it is. Not...

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Prophylactic Mastectomy – how much does it really help?

Posted by in Blog, Prevention, Surgery | 0 comments

Being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing mastectomy can be a traumatic experience, and surgeons are often consulted about “prophylactic” mastectomy – a procedure to remove the healthy breast along with the cancer-affected breast in the hope of avoiding a recurrence of breast cancer at a later stage. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have found that the “survival benefit” for this procedure is less than 1% at 20 years post-surgery – at least, for patients who do not have the BRCA gene mutation.  According to Medscape, their findings were presented recently at the American College of Surgeons 2013 Annual Clinical Congress. The increasing demand for the procedure is surprising in itself, given that not so long ago most patients dreaded the removal of a breast and would not wish to consider the loss of both breasts if one, at least, was healthy. Now, it seems that as many as one in five women are undergoing double mastectomies despite having a normal lifetime risk and a healthy other breast. What has changed? It’s not entirely clear but may have to do with the increasing recognition and awareness of breast cancer in society as well as publicity around public figures who opt to have prophylactic mastectomies earlier in 2013. Film star Angelina Jolie is a case in point, whose life chances have been substantially improved because she was found to have the BRCA mutation after two close female relatives developed breast cancer. In cases like Angelina’s, prophylactic mastectomy is worthwhile, even though no cancer has yet been diagnosed. Women are also aware that surgical management of the breast has improved dramatically in the past couple of decades and that cosmetic outcomes are often very acceptable with modern reconstruction techniques. However, the new computer model which predicts the likelihood of long term survival of patients who have had breast cancer but do not have the high-risk BRCA mutation suggests that for most patients there is little to be gained in terms of risk reduction, by removing the healthy breast. The research compared risks for breast cancer occurring in the other breast, and chances of survival with and without prophylactic mastectomy, in women aged between 40 and 60 who had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer but were without the BRCA mutation. The analysis also took into account age, how much the original breast tumour had grown before diagnosis (Stage I or II), and also the extent of oestrogen receptor involvement. According to this model, a person at the lowest risk for recurrence of breast cancer (i.e. younger, with a Stage I tumour, and oestrogen-receptor negative), might hope (on average) to gain an approximate extra 6 months of life. An older patient...

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Wearing a mastectomy bra and prosthesis

Posted by in Blog, Looking Good | 0 comments

A breast prosthesis is worn after mastectomy to restore your natural symmetrical body shape. Made from silicone, it has a softly rounded shape, and fits neatly into the hidden pocket of a specially designed bra. At your post-surgery consultation, ask your doctor when you can start wearing a prosthesis: generally, you should expect to wait for approximately six weeks after surgery. This allows healing of the operation site and swelling to go down, so that accurate measurements can be done, but recovery time varies for each individual and may take longer. Who needs to wear a mastectomy bra and prosthesis? As women begin to get their lives back following the drama of breast cancer and mastectomy, most prefer to wear the fashions and styles they enjoy, including feminine cuts with bust-lines.  A correctly fitted bra and prosthesis helps you to maintain a good self image and the self-confidence that comes from your favourite clothes. However, style is not the only benefit; your neck, shoulders and back are accustomed to symmetrical weight across the chest and mastectomy alters this balance. A correctly fitted prosthesis helps to maintain natural body alignment, preventing or relieving muscle tension and pain. Choosing and fitting a bra Choose a mastectomy bra and prosthesis that has been well manufactured from high quality materials. Stability is ensured by the hidden pocket into which the prosthesis fits – you want to be able to wear the bra without being constantly aware of it, so stable support is essential whether your cup size is large or small.  Broader shoulder straps and a generous cut of underarm fabric offer superior support, creating balance.  Ensure you are fitted with the correct size prosthesis (by weight) in order to balance the healthy breast and ensure good posture.  A professional fitter will consider your natural shape, lifestyle and needs when fitting you with a bra and prosthesis.  Bras are available in a variety of attractive styles and colours so there are plenty of options for creating the look you want. For Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas, Isabel Strydom offers an advisory and fitting service for breast prostheses and mastectomy bras, call her on 082 484 8358...

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