Reconstruction Resources at Runnels Center
Let us help you bloom again…
Let us help you bloom again…
Q&A with Dr. William North and Dr. Scott Runnels
Is breast cancer less common now with all the awareness and research going on?
Dr. Runnels: Every year in Mississippi, thousands of women are still diagnosed with breast cancer. There really isn’t anyone who breast cancer has not affected in some way. For me, I see on average 10 to 20 women a week in different stages of cancer, life and the reconstructive process.
Who is a good candidate for breast reconstruction?
Dr. Runnels: While most women undergoing mastectomy are candidates, breast reconstruction is not for everyone. It requires general anesthesia and may not be advised or women who are not in good health or not able to withstand additional surgical or anesthesia time.
Are there different types of reconstruction?
Dr. Runnels: With each procedure, we aim to recreate a natural shape, size, and “feel” for the reconstructed breast, as well as provide symmetry. Which option I choose depends not only on your goals, but also on whether the reconstruction is done at the same time as the mastectomy or years later. In any case, know that advances in both diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer now allow women to live full and active lifestyles.
Dr. North: We can reconstruct with implants, your own body tissue or a combination of both. During a consultation, we take into account things such your health, body type, activity level, to name a few, and use that info to determine which would work best for you.
Reconstructions may require use of tissue expanders to make space for implants. We have more options for this with new expanders such as the AeroForm Expander, which lets patients control the process of expansion and reduces office visits. For select patients, we also offer muscle sparing procedures which can minimize post operative pain and discomfort as well as create better cleavage.
If I choose breast implants for my reconstruction, what types are available and how do I decide which one is right for me?
Dr. North: Breast implants are categorized by how the outer shell is made–smooth or textured, whether they are filled with saline or silicone, and how they are shaped–round or teardrop. New silicone types are now available with a “gummy” gel that allows for more options on feel, shape, and look. Which ones would work best for you depends on a number of factors relating your body type, chest shape, and how you envision your post-operative appearance.
Dr. Runnels: More important than choosing which implant is which plastic surgeon should perform the surgery. You should spend most of your research time on finding your doctor, who can then help you make the right decision to meet your goals. Consultations are not only a great way to get a feel for the doctor’s work and see before-and-after photos, but to address any questions or issues that you may have. No question is too too big, too small, or too embarrassing. Bringing out the best in you is what it’s all about here at Runnels Center. Both Dr. North and myself, with our nurses and staff, strive to provide the best medical care with compassion and dignity to every patient and help them look and feel their best.
What is the timeline for reconstruction?
Dr. North: You can have it immediately after mastectomy or choose to wait. Some women simply choose to delay reconstruction. Others, because of the uncertainty of diagnosis or stage of the disease and possibly requiring chemotherapy or radiation treatments, we advise waiting until after they have fully healed from the cancer treatments to talk about reconstruction and getting the procedure scheduled.
What is the recovery time and post-op limitation?
Dr. Runnels: Generally, it’s 4-6 weeks depending on the type of reconstruction. It may take a few weeks longer for full mobility and resolution of any swelling or bruising. It is important in the early stage, usually 3-4 weeks after surgery, to increase motion and prevent undue strain on the smaller shoulder muscles. Around 6-8 weeks, you can progress to more upper body strengthening exercises.
Will an implant mask a recurrence of breast cancer should it come back?
Dr. Runnels: While anything is possible, recurrent cancers after mastectomy recur locally on the mastectomy incision, chest wall, or in the axilla and are generally not masked by an implant. Most important are regular physician exams after surgery along with body scans when appropriate. These are current surveillance recommendations and are either performed quarterly, semi-annually, or yearly to detect any early sign of a recurrent cancer.
The Runnels Center Outpatient Plastic Surgery, Clinic, and Spa is located in the Metro Jackson area. It established the Runnels Resource Blog with procedure info, helpful tips and guides, and links for breast cancer resources. To contact Runnels Center for a consultation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 601.939.9778.