Considering breast reconstruction surgery? Know your options.
Check out our Breast Reconstruction FAQs page.
Patients have described the physical and emotional effects a mastectomy or lumpectomy might have on a woman as a sense of loss of body image, feminity, and sensuality. These effects can be devastating to a woman. Fortunately, breast reconstruction in Birmingham can restore the physical and emotional losses of a mastectomy. Dr. Beckenstein realized early in his general surgery training the significance of these losses and decided to pursue a specialty that can assist these women. He completed his general and plastic surgery residencies and then went further into training.
Check out our Breast Reconstruction FAQs page.
Where most plastic surgeons begin their practices at the end of their residency, Dr. Beckenstein completed another 3 years in fellowships pertaining to breast reconstruction. He trained with Carl Hartrampf Jr., MD, who is the developer of the TRAM flap. Dr. Beckenstein then went on to Georgetown University and trained under Scott L. Spear, MD, who is world renowned for breast surgery and is the co-developer of the anatomic implants systems used in today's reconstructions. His last breast surgery fellowship was in Birmingham, Alabama where he learned microsurgical techniques as well as modern refinements in breast surgery. These fellowships were with the true masters in their respective fields and Dr. Beckenstein passes their legacies along into your care.
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Many women choose Dr. Beckenstein's practice after being referred by their oncologic surgeon, or after talking with other breast cancer survivors who have chosen reconstruction. Dr. Beckenstein was awarded the prestigious Life Inspiration Award by the American Cancer Society for the uniquely compassionate care he gives to his patients. With his fellowship training, years of experience, and a dedication to providing the highest level of patient care, Dr. Beckenstein is the surgeon of choice for many women considering breast reconstruction in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and surrounding communities.
You have many choices for breast reconstruction in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Beckenstein is dedicated to providing you with his Comprehensive Consultation where you will be thoroughly educated about the breast reconstruction procedure. Dr. Beckenstein appreciates that deciding whether or not to undergo breast reconstruction is highly personal and often stressful because a decision must be made in a short period of time. He will see you for 2 or more consultations in this time frame to educate you and assist you in your decision-making. Your visit is hosted in the relaxed, pleasant environment of his new state-of-the art office in Saint Vincent's North Tower. Feel free to request your Comprehensive Consultation with Dr. Beckenstein and learn more about breast reconstruction.
We provide a number of special services for our breast reconstruction patients through the Alabama Breast Cancer Cooperative, a unique concept in comprehensive breast cancer care developed by Dr. Beckenstein. Our internal support system pairs patients with one another based on personality, region, and other demographic factors. Through these special bonds our patients have a better overall experience, where they can share their respective experiences with one another and know that they are not alone!
Dr. Beckenstein has added a counselor to his team who specializes in the emotional issues women with breast cancer must contend with. There are also spiritual advisors who provide treatment for your soul. Dr. Beckenstein has invited physical therapists into the operating room to observe surgery. In doing this, these dedicated people developed a true anatomic appreciation of what might cause discomfort in patients. From this they have developed specialized treatment protocols for his patients. We also set aside a few days each month for customized spa-type activities and massage therapies designed for the special needs of our breast reconstruction patients. We also supply access to specialty products such as brassieres, wigs, and support garments.
Breast reconstruction is an option – it does not have to be performed, and many women chose not to have the procedure, instead comfortably wearing prostheses. If you are in good health and are within a reasonable weight/height ratio and the appropriate age range, you may be a good candidate for breast reconstruction. These factors will all be discussed during your Comprehensive Consultation with Dr. Beckenstein.
Reconstruction can be performed at the time of your mastectomy, which is known as an "immediate reconstruction," or it can be performed sometime afterwards, a "delayed reconstruction." Immediate reconstruction has several advantages associated with it, mainly being one surgery, better aesthetic results, and a psychological benefit. Most patients can undergo immediate procedures but some for various reasons cannot and must wait for their reconstruction. There are 2 basic techniques for reconstruction; one using your own tissue (autologous tissue reconstruction) and one using breast implants (prosthetic reconstruction). There are several situations where Dr. Beckenstein may combine the 2 methods to rebuild a breast.
Autologous tissue reconstruction involves transferring fat and skin from one area of your body (donor site) to the chest. It is often taken from the abdomen, known as a TRAM flap. If there is enough abdominal tissue to rebuild a breast this is a good option as it also incorporates an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) into the procedure. Other sources of natural tissue are the back (latissimus dorsi flap), gluteal/buttock areas, or thighs. The tissue may be transferred through conventional, pedicled flaps, or with microsurgical methods known as free flaps. These procedures, due to the donor site, are more complex than breast implant reconstructions, may have more intensive recovery, but yield an arguably more natural result.
Prosthetic/implant reconstruction utilizes implants to rebuild the breasts. They are man-made devices that can recreate a nice aesthetic breast. The procedure is just confined to the chest, with no donor site needed. Because of this, the procedure and recoveries are less complex and intensive. Women who choose breast implants often comment that the implants do have an "implant feel" to them and are different than natural tissue.
Both methods of reconstruction have their own nuances, side effects, and potential complications. Dr. Beckenstein will make sure you fully understand all of these when he assists you in making your decisions about breast reconstruction. Not every patient is a candidate for reconstruction and not every method is suited for each woman. During your visit with Dr. Beckenstein, he will evaluate your medical history and physical health. He will also discuss your oncologic status with your oncologist and oncologic surgeon. With careful analysis of all this information, he will determine if you are a good candidate for reconstruction and what procedures might be best suited to you.
Depending on your breast size and the amount of tissue that needs to be removed around a tumor, a significant breast deformity or asymmetry may result after a lumpectomy. A consultation before your lumpectomy will enable Dr. Beckenstein to determine if breast reconstruction can be performed at the time of your lumpectomy. The tumor and some additional surrounding breast tissue can be removed, the lymph nodes sampled or excised, and the breast reconstruction performed in a single combined surgery completed before radiation. Breast reconstruction can be performed to restore symmetry to your breasts with either breast reduction or breast lift. The margin around the tumor is often more than the lumpectomy, which adds a significant benefit to the procedure. This is known as Onco-Plastic Surgery and Dr. Beckenstein was one of the first to introduce it into the Birmingham, Alabama area.
After lumpectomy and radiation therapy, reconstructive options narrow and often require more extensive surgery. The skin and soft tissue become irreparably damaged from radiation treatment, requiring additional, natural tissue (usually from your back), being brought into the breast to restore your breast size and volume. It may take up to 2 years after radiation therapy is completed for a breast deformity or asymmetry to manifest. If this occurs, it may not be too late to contact us for a consultation.
Dr. Beckenstein assures that every breast reconstruction candidate has a complete understanding of her proposed procedure. He will go into complete detail of the procedure along with all the risks and benefits associated with it prior to your surgery. He will listen attentively and carefully to your expectations and concerns and assist you with the decisions pertaining to your reconstructive options.
If you would like to learn more about reconstructive plastic surgery in Birmingham, you can schedule a Comprehensive Consultation with Dr. Beckenstein at his office on St. Vincent's Drive. Feel free to speak with an office associate at 866-MSBMD77 (866-672-6377) or request your Comprehensive Consultation right here online with Dr. Beckenstein. An office associate who will be delighted to provide you more information and assist you in any way will contact you promptly.