Angelina Jolie announced today that she underwent a prophylactic (or preventative) double mastectomy with breast reconstruction, due to testing positive for the BRCA-1 gene.
Women who have this genetic mutation have an 87 percent chance of having breast cancer and 44 percent chance of having ovarian cancer by age 70. Surgical oncologists generally recommend having this type of preventative breast surgery, and also oophorectomy after they are done with childbearing.
Angelina Jolie took proactive measures to prevent breast cancer, and had the courage to share this, which will help bring awareness to BRCA-1 and also the possibility that breasts can be immediately reconstructed. Breast reconstruction falls into three major categories, including breast implant based reconstruction, autologous tissue based reconstruction, and free tissue transfer.
Women who undergo bilateral (or double, both sides) mastectomy, with no plans for radiation, often opt for implant based reconstruction which allows for the quickest recovery, least risk, avoiding a donor site that is required if using your own tissue, and good cosmetic outcome.
In implant based reconstruction, typically a tissue expander is inserted first. This is a temporary inflatable device that is slowly expanded over the course of two to three months. After allowing for time for the skin to relax, the expanders are removed and breast implants are placed.
To see what breast reconstruction with implants looks like, please visit the breast photo gallery. To take a quiz to see if you have risk factors for BRCA-1 see Beverly Hills Surgical Oncologist Dr. Travis Kidner’s quiz. To read more about Angelina Jolie’s announcement, see this article. To hear Angelina Jolie discuss her choice and share her experience, please see this article.