If learning someone has breast cancer isn’t hard enough, then comes the decision about how to reconstruct breasts following a mastectomy.
Not quite three years ago, Heidi Grise, of West Simsbury, got the news no woman wants to hear.
She learned she had breast cancer and said she was completely shocked, especially because she said she was vigilant with mammograms, was under 50 years old and had no family history.
"It was caught early which was wonderful but it was an aggressive type of breast cancer so the outcome would have been a lot different,” Grise said.
Doctors advised her to undergo a double mastectomy to get rid of the cancer.
Once that decision was made, she had to decide how she wanted to reconstruct her breasts.
After doing a lot of research, Grise learned of the skills of Dr. Leo Otake, chief of plastic surgery at St. Francis Hospital.
"We can tailor the specific reconstruction to the needs and anatomy of the individual patient,” Otake said.
Grise had a number of reconstructive options to choose from, like implants and using her own tissue.
She opted for the DIEP flap procedure, which is a microsurgical technique that typically uses a patient’s skin, fat and blood vessels from the lower abdomen, leaving the muscles intact.
"Overall I'd say it's hard to beat the tissue reconstruction from the standpoint of the look and the feel of the reconstructed final breast,” Otake said.
Otake said not touching the muscles allows for less post-operative pain and therefore a faster recovery, restoring a patient’s sense of wholeness.
"I felt relieved that I'm going on to the next stage of my life,” Grise said, adding that she is grateful for Otake and his team’s expertise.
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