Helping women overcome the physical and emotional toll of losing their breasts to cancer is the essence of why Mitchell Flurry, MD, became a plastic surgeon.
“Breast reconstruction encompasses everything I like about plastic surgery, from the technical aspects, which require precision, to the artistry of recreating a natural breast,” says Dr. Flurry.
Mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis can be especially difficult because it affects an essential part of female identity. Breast reconstruction can be a part of the emotional recovery.
Dr. Flurry, who recently joined the staff of Via Christi Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics, brings a new and increasingly popular type of breast reconstruction to the Wichita area. The procedures, known as autologous free flap breast reconstruction, use the patient’s own skin and fat along with the associated artery and veins to recreate the breast, instead of implants.
“Over time, women become increasingly happy with their breasts created from their own tissue because they feel more natural,” Dr. Flurry says.
In the most common procedure, known as Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator — or DIEP — surgery, the skin, fat and blood vessels are moved from the patient’s belly to her chest. The tissue’s removal gives her results similar to a tummy tuck. The scar left behind is usually below the bikini line.
Dr. Flurry uses a surgical microscope to attach the blood vessels from the new tissue to the vessels in the chest area to give the new breast a blood supply.
“Microsurgery is only 50 years old, and the goal previously was simply to make the tissue live,” he says. “With the rise of autologous free flap breast reconstruction in the past 10-20 years, the goal is not just to have the new breast tissue live, but to make it look and feel like a natural breast.”
Because the new breast is constructed with living tissue, it adapts naturally as the patient ages and gains or loses weight.
These procedures also can be used to create larger breasts than traditional reconstruction surgeries, allowing naturally larger-chested women more proportional results.
These procedures are usually done on both breasts, as women who have cancer in one breast increasingly are opting for preventive mastectomies in the other. But this also is an excellent choice for single-breast reconstructions because of the ability to most closely mimic the shape of the remaining breast, Dr. Flurry says.
“This procedure is a great option for women looking to recover from a difficult time in their lives.”