Actress, mother, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie wrote a powerful op-ed in the New York Times about her medical choice to have preventative mastectomies and reconstruct her breasts.
From a medical standpoint, Angelina's operation is one that I frequently recommend to my patients with breast cancer. In thin women who would like to minimize scars, have full and round breasts, and be up and about quickly, doing what Angelina Jolie did is a wonderful option: having expanders put in at the time of the cancer surgery, and switching out the expanders for permanent implants a few months later.
The other option for breast reconstruction after cancer is using your own tissue-- usually the abdominal skin and fat. This option can be great in women who have a bit of extra weight, who do not mind a longer and more complicated operation, and who can tolerate a more serious surgery that requires more time to recover.
I perform both types of breast reconstruction-- using implants and using your own tissue. When a women comes in for a consultation, we discuss the pros and cons of each approach in great detail. There is no one correct answer for every woman. We will come up with the correct answer for you, together.
Regardless of what you think of Angelina Jolie as a public figure and Hollywood doyenne, her decision to write publicly about her breast reconstruction was admirable. I hope that many more women will come to realize that, not only must they pay attention to their breast health, but that they should think about reconstruction of beautiful, feminine breasts as an equally important and gratifying part of cancer treatment.