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One skill that separates me from other surgeons is my ability to leave women flat-chested after a mastectomy if they so desire. For years, medical professionals as well as breast cancer patients adhered to the idea that breast reconstruction is an integral part of breast cancer treatment. However, many patients today are choosing to forego reconstruction and remain breastless after breast cancer surgery.

The choice is called “going flat” and it’s a decision that surgeons should respect as well as be able to achieve. Unfortunately, not all surgeons do, as a recent article in Cosmopolitan highlights.

The article tells about women like Kim Bowles, a stage 3 breast cancer survivor who told her surgeon to make her flat during her double mastectomy surgery. She was explicitly clear that she did not want any form of reconstruction. However, her surgeon completely disregarded her wishes and left two sagging pockets of skin in case she “changed her mind” later.

Often, a women’s weight, or rather her Body Mass Index, can make it difficult for any surgeon to leave her flat. However, a surgeon trained in advanced techniques, and with the experience to understand and deal with this situation, can minimize the “Angel’s Wings” to leave very little, if any, “sagging pockets of skin” as well as to optimize scar location.

Honoring Your Choice

Reconstruction is a deeply personal choice, and each woman should never feel pressured by her doctor to make a choice one way or another. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology  approximately 25% of double-mastectomy patients and 50% of single-mastectomy patients opt out of reconstruction.

If a patient opts out of reconstruction, a surgeon’s job at that point is to make the chest as smooth as possible, without excess flaps of skin or flesh. Aside from some surgeons who disrespect a woman’s choice, many general surgeons simply don’t have the training or experience to leave women flat.

Most breast cancer surgeries in the U.S. are done by general surgeons with no advanced  training on how to handle breast disease and achieve the best cosmetic surgical outcomes, according to another study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study showed that when breast cancer patients were treated by a surgeon that lacked specialization, they were not as satisfied with their care or their outcome compared to those who were tended to by a specialized surgeon.

Many general surgeons aren’t able to pull off a smooth, flat chest with an unobtrusive scar. Instead, women are left with droopy puckering flaps of skin that are irritating, humiliating, and difficult to deal with.

Breast Surgical Oncologists  respect and are able to achieve a woman’s choice to go flat. Achieving a cosmetically pleasing outcome requires specialization and experience, and I’m proud that I’ve helped many women go flat if that’s what they chose after a mastectomy.

If you’re considering whether to opt for reconstruction or to go flat after a mastectomy, I’d be glad to talk with you about all your options so you can make a fully informed choice that’s right for you.

And if you’ve recently been diagnosed with breast cancer or are wondering if you should seek a second opinion on your diagnosis or treatment plan, I am also happy to consult with you. I have an office at Tennova Turkey Creek in West Knoxville and an office adjacent to Tennova North Knoxville Medical Center just off of Emory Road in Powell.

My extensive research and dedication to continual learning have distinguished me as a leader in the field of specialized breast cancer oncology. To learn more about my compassionate surgical care approach, visit www.aaronmd.com or call (865) 692-1610.