Angelina Jolie’s Mastectomy and Reconstruction

As a plastic surgeon serving Palo Alto, I was pleased to hear that actress, director, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie went public with her decision for a preventive double mastectomy. Jolie carried a gene mutation (BRCA1) that made her much more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer. In order to reduce her risk, she opted for a preventive double mastectomy with reconstruction, which involved a series of procedures to remove the breast tissue from both breasts and put in implants.

I commend Ms. Jolie on her bravery and courage to come forward with her story. Breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women each year. Although the news of breast cancer is never good, women do have options when it comes to reconstruction. Two of the breast reconstruction techniques I offer are:

  • TRAM Flap Reconstruction

This type of reconstruction uses your own tissue to create a new, living breast. Typically, the donor skin, muscle, and tissue are taken from the lower abdomen. This is a good option for women who lost a substantial amount of breast tissue, or for those who want a more natural alternative to implants. This approach also has the dual benefit of a flatter abdomen.

  • Implant Reconstruction

Like Ms. Jolie, many women prefer to have breast implants placed after mastectomy as opposed to using their own tissue. Usually, this technique requires a 4- to 6-month period in which tissue expanders are placed to help stretch the skin so that it can accommodate the breast implant. The results can look and feel very natural.


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