Breast reconstruction surgery has added bonus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Barb Karnitz's first breast cancer diagnosis came in 1996, her second in 2003, and her third this past May. She knows she has the defective BRCA1 gene.

"The only option to get the last lump out was a mastectomy, so if I'm going for one, I might as well go for two," explained Karnitz.

Barb wanted to be sure she was around for her family, especially her young grandchildren. After looking over the options, she chose a new Deep Flap procedure which is only being done at Mercy Health's Saint Mary's.

Dr. Shannon Armstrong a plastic surgeon for Mercy Health Saint Mary's performs the Deep Flap Procedure. He says this new procedure is less invasive and doesn't use implants.

"Additionally it's all the patient's own tissue so there's no implant required to recreate the breast after mastectomy," said Dr. Armstrong.

There's one rather attractive bonus to the surgery: You get a tummy tuck to go along with your new breasts. "There's the perk of the flattening of the abdomen that goes along with it too," says Dr. Armstrong.

As for the scarring, "The scars are similar to those with an abdominal plasty from hip bone to hip bone and whatever scars are left from the mastectomy," explains Dr. Armstrong.

The surgery lasts 10-14 hours and is done at the same time as the mastectomy. Patients stay in the hospital for about a week and must wear compression garments for four weeks after the surgery.

Barb says recovery from the Deep Flap procedure was better than expected. "Haven't had much problem at all just getting yourself back in shape." And now she can move on with her life and enjoy what's yet to come.


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