A reconstructive surgical option for women with breast cancer

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Breast reconstruction can include breast implants — as well as fat and skin transferred from the lower abdomen.

But for patients like Brandi Surprenant — neither one was a viable option.

Treatment for breast cancer left her with few options.

Brandi explains, “You have a lot of skin inflammation after and implants sometimes do not really work well with radiated tissue.”

Researching potential solutions led her to Dr. Michael Alperovich at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven — three hundred miles away from upstate New York where she lives.

“I compare it to essentially doing a transplant within a patient’s body,” says Dr. Alperovich.

The procedure he offered — the Pap Flap.

He says, “The Pap Flap essentially is using upper thigh skin and fat and transferring that to create breast tissue.”

And it’s for women who don’t have enough fat from the abdominal area to transfer to the chest.

“You take the fat from the inner thigh,” says Dr. Alperovich, “It essentially starts in the inner thigh and then extends around the back. “It’s a chance we can now say, any woman regardless of your body type can have an autologous or flap breast reconstruction. It’s a chance to have natural reconstruction in the absence of any implants.”

For Brandi, a mother of two, “I wanted something that would make me feel whole again.”

And a procedure that her body would not reject.

“I was just really looking for something that was more natural that once I was done with surgery I can move on with my life and not have to go back there again.”

Finishing touches though are still in the works.

Dr. Alperovich says, “We’d like to do– basically take the fat — that’s sort of a little bit of lipo and just contour some little minor changes on the right side.”

However, he also stresses the procedure of using the skin and fat from the lower abdomen will still remain the first option for natural breast reconstruction for most breast cancer patients.

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