OakLeaf Medical Network Healthy Viewpoints, Winter 2003
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Joseph Rucker, MD, FACS

On-line Resource for Breast Reconstruction Options

Joseph Rucker, MD, FACS
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
Rucker & Merrick, Plastic Surgery Clinic
Eau Claire

The Restorative Breast Center is an on-line resource that addresses the needs of patients seeking information on disorders and diseases of the breast and surgical assistance in the areas of breast augmentation, reduction and/or reconstruction.

The website has been developed to provide visitors with overviews and photos of various surgical procedures for the breast, including diagnosis of breast cancer, breast reconstruction and their anticipated outcomes.

In the course of practicing plastic and reconstructive surgery for the past 22 years, I have dedicated a substantial portion of my practice to breast restoration and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the breast. My interest in this field was greatly influenced by a close friend who unfortunately was diagnosed with and eventually lost her battle with breast cancer.

Each year more than 200,000 American women face the reality of breast cancer.

Today, new approaches in understanding the disease and its treatment, as well as advances in reconstructive surgery, mean that women who have breast cancer or women who have undergone breast reconstruction in the past, have new choices. The Restorative Breast Center site contains information relative to the diagnosis of breast cancer, its treatment and the reconstructive options that are available.

If you or a loved one have been told you may need, or if you have already undergone a mastectomy, then breast reconstruction may be an option. Breast reconstruction is a series of operations with the aim of recreating the breast to its original shape. Most women that have a mastectomy can have a breast reconstruction. The vast majority of breast reconstruction procedures are done by plastic surgeons.

Over the years, I have come to realize that breast cancer and its treatments change a woman’s body and her self-image. Depending on the size of the breast tumor, its location within the breast and the treatment type (lumpectomy versus mastectomy), those changes can be significant. Sixty percent of women treated for breast cancer have lumpectomy and radiation as their primary treatment while 40% have mastectomy. About 1 to 2% of the women who initially have a lumpectomy eventually have a mastectomy due to a local recurrence of the cancer.

No matter what the physical alteration after cancer removal, the change in how a woman perceives herself can affect her psychological well-being. Women choose to have reconstructive surgery for a variety of reasons including physical disfigurement, pain, lack of symmetry between breasts, difficulty with clothing or self-consciousness about their appearance.

Well informed choices

Being faced with the diagnosis of breast cancer forces the patient to make difficult decisions. The prospect of breast reconstruction can cause anxiety because of the many different routes available. To make well informed choices, she must have all the information available to her -- including potential risks and problems, the types of procedures, insurance, recovery, before and after photographs of reconstruction, and access to other women who have undergone breast reconstructive surgery.

If you are considering breast reconstruction, it is extremely helpful to discuss this with your surgeon and an experienced plastic surgeon prior to your mastectomy. This allows the surgical team to plan the treatment that is best for you, even if you decide to have reconstructive breast surgery done at a later date. I hope that the Restorative Breast Center, visit www.ruckermd.com, can be of some help.

For more information on breast reconstruction or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rucker, call: 715-833-2116 or 800-456-8222 or visit www.ruckermd.com
Dr. Rucker also sees patients in River Falls and Lake Elmo, MN.