No implants: New breast reconstruction technique uses only natur - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

No implants: New breast reconstruction technique uses only natural tissue

Two surgeons are working together to offer a new type of reconstruction called DIEP flap. It's a procedure they say isn't being offered anywhere else in the state. (Photo source: WLOX) Two surgeons are working together to offer a new type of reconstruction called DIEP flap. It's a procedure they say isn't being offered anywhere else in the state. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the US. And now there's a new treatment option on the coast that's helping some women put the cancer behind them sooner.  

Two surgeons are working together to offer a new type of reconstruction called DIEP flap. It's a procedure they say isn't being offered anywhere else in Mississippi. While it's major surgery, the doctors say it may offer the best long term outcome for some younger patients.

Melissa Ladner from Perkinston is one of those younger patients. When Ladner vacationed with her husband and two sons out west in the summer of 2014 she had no idea that she would be recovering from breast cancer surgery the following summer.

"You just don't know. I didn't see it coming," Ladner said.

But in March 2015, Melissa, who is in her early 40s, was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, a pre-invasive breast cancer.

"I went to get a routine mammogram and that's how they discovered it."  

She was given two options. A lumpectomy to remove the pre-invasive cancerous tissue, followed by radiation; or a mastectomy - complete removal of the breast with no radiation. After meeting with general surgeon Dr. Paul Mace, and plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Diaz, Ladner chose to have both breasts removed. Dr. Mace said more women are choosing double mastectomies to reduce their future risks.  

"In younger patients, we're seeing more bilateral mastectomies in order to be more decisive in treatment and to help keep it from coming back again down the road," Dr. Mace said. 

Her decision was made easier due to the option of DIEP flap reconstruction. Dr. Diaz said the procedure "is the removal of fat and skin from the patients abdomen and recreating the breasts with that tissue."  

For Ladner, knowing it would be her own tissue made a difference in her decision.

"To know I could still have my own natural tissue taken from the stomach was encouraging because I didn't have to have any implants," Ladner said.

Doctor Diaz said the difference between DIEP flap and other tissue transfer reconstruction, such as the TRAM flap, is that the DIEP procedure doesn't affect abdominal muscles, only fatty tissue and skin. He said it's "effectively giving the patient a tummy tuck in the process of reconstructing the breasts."

And because no muscle is used, most women recover more quickly and have a lower risk of losing abdominal muscle strength. Diaz said, so far, his patients have been pleased with the procedure.

"You're basically taking tissue where you don't want it and putting it where you do want it," Dr. Diaz said.

Melissa was back at work within three or four weeks after surgery.

"I'm at that place now where six months later I didn't miss a beat," she said. "It's all good." 

And she said the best part about it for her is peace of mind.

"I'm finished with it so I don't have to worry about it anymore."

Remember, while this may have been the right choice for Ladner, the procedure is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor about all of your options before you make a decision. 

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