(WTNH) – Each week in October our Positively Pink series is looking at new advances in breast cancer treatment. A surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury is offering options to patients.
The last step of breast cancer can lead women to the office of Dr. Wes Cohen, Chief of Plastic Surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital. His specialty is restoring a breast after a mastectomy.
One option is something called a deep flap procedure, which can be performed at the same time as a mastectomy or afterward. The patient gets some body sculpting enhancements. Their own tissue is removed from the belly, back, buttocks, or inner thighs.
“What I’ll do is I’ll transfer tissue from a patient’s abdomen,” Dr. Cohen said. “That area of skin that we would normally throw out after a tummy tuck, and I transfer it to the patient’s chest, and I make a breast out of it.”
Women who opt for the flap procedure, which has more than one surgery site, spend two to four nights in St. Mary’s Hospital.
Dr. Cohen says some women want breast implants instead of fat transfer in their reconstruction for aesthetic and recovery reasons.
“The benefit of implants is it’s a little bit quicker of a downtime,” Dr. Cohen said. “Patients get back to work. Breast implants, the new technology, they’re very natural looking, they’re very natural feeling and you can get a really great result from implant reconstruction as well.”
The breast reconstruction procedure has to be covered by the law.
“As a federal mandate where insurance, all insurance carriers, will cover breast reconstruction procedures,” Dr. Cohen said.
Dr. Cohen describes himself as the light at the end of a woman’s breast cancer journey.
“It’s nice to be able to offer patients that satisfaction of being done,” Dr. Cohen said. “Increasing their confidence, their well-being, confidence after having such a difficult journey through cancer.”
Some women choose not to go through any reconstructive breast procedures after breast cancer.
To learn more about how you can help to raise funds to support breast cancer research here in Connecticut, contact the Breast Health Initiative.