Bolitho MD

9834 Genesee Ave Ste 311 La Jolla San Diego, California
Phone: (858) 458-5100


27Oct, 2016

New study reveals breast reconstruction psychosocial effects

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New study reveals breast reconstruction psychosocial effects

While the month of October marked Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this month’s issue of “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,” a medical journal published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, highlighted a study regarding women who underwent a mastectomy. The premise of the study was to see if there was a difference in psychosocial issues between those who had immediate breast reconstruction (IBR) to those who had delayed breast reconstruction (DBR).

It’s important to note that it’s a woman’s personal choice as to whether or not she wants to undergo breast reconstruction. While some may not want to pursue it, others do. With that said, it’s imperative for those diagnosed with breast cancer to know of the reconstruction options available to her when a single or bilateral mastectomy is surgically recommended.

According to Science Daily, the study was conducted at the University of Toronto. It was also cited that when compared to the USA, breast cancer medical centers based in Canada tend to perform more DBR than IBR procedures.

It was correctly noted that sometimes not all patients are candidates for immediate breast reconstruction due to a treatment protocol. It’s indeed individualized.

Participants from the study consisted of 106 patients who underwent an autologous breast reconstruction. From this group of patients, 30 patients had IBR following their mastectomy while 76 patients had their DBR roughly three years later.

Science Daily reported, “Before and at six, 12, and 18 months after mastectomy, the two groups completed questionnaires assessing a range of psychological factors. Scores were compared to assess differences in the psychosocial impact of and recovery from mastectomy with IBR versus DBR.” The news source added, “In both groups, anxiety decreased after breast reconstruction.”

In terms of “health-related quality of life,” women who underwent IBR were able to rebound back into this category earlier than those undergoing DBR. However, roughly six months following their reconstruction surgery, DBR patients had a restored sense of “health-related quality of life.”

Science Daily went on to note, “Lessening the psychosocial impact of breast cancer and its treatment is an important goal of breast reconstruction. While the study is not the first to show psychological benefits of IBR, it provides new information on the course of recovery, compared to DBR.” The article continued, “The results suggest that, when appropriate, IBR can avoid a period of psychosocial distress associated with mastectomy.”

While this study offers insight between the differences of IBR and DBR, it’s important to underscore the support a woman should have following her breast cancer diagnosis. In addition to her medical team, including a board certified plastic surgeon if she so chooses, other areas of support also include family and friends. And support such as this will help carry a patient to that finish line called hope.

22Oct, 2015

How Some Women Experience Breast Pain In Sports

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How Some Women Experience Breast Pain In Sports

In the world of competition, women continue to break barriers and records in sports. For many, athletics is part of their lifestyle, and for others, their profession and livelihood. A recent article published by the Telegraph UK was an eye opener in terms of how many women involved in sports struggle with breast pain.

A portion of the article was dedicated to equestrians.

According to Radhika Sanghani of the Telegraph UK, a group of British Women admitted to having stopped participating in a particular sport due to breast pain.

“Last year a study from the University of Portsmouth’s Breast Health Research Group found that one in five women said breast pain was a barrier to exercise,” Sanghani wrote. She continued, “The same researchers are now working on a study about horse riding specifically, which will be launched in the next couple of months. Preliminary information from the study suggests that high numbers of riders struggle with breast pain – but Dr. Jenny Burbage, one of the researchers, tells me women participating in many sports tend to experience discomfort.”

Women who are naturally large chested may very well experience pain and find it awkward participating in sports. A client of mine, who was an equestrian and rode dressage for more than a decade, admitted the discomfort she experienced.

“It’s no surprise to me that this study in the United Kingdom revealed these numbers,” Ms. M said. “While I don’t ride anymore due to back issues, when I did it, there was discomfort. And despite whatever bra I wore, even one that was professionally fitted, there was never enough support for DDD.”

Ms. M admits she had never really thought about a breast reduction surgery at the time.

“Riding my horse was more of a hobby, but if I rode more, I would have definitely considered it,” she said. “I always felt that even my riding posture was off due to the weight I had to carry, too.”

In the article, it was also mentioned how some women may find how their athletic performance could be hindered due to breast pain, as well.

For women who live every day in discomfort because of this heavy weight, they not only complain about how challenging it is to take part in sports, but also in exercising. Additionally, finding fashionable garments which fit appropriately can be a quite a task.

Moreover, women who must carry this weight can suffer from the following:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Headaches

And more….

The article also made an interesting point that many athletes may not admit to the discomfort they feel. Sadly, a stigma may be present. And hopefully, through educational articles this stigma can be eradicated.

From the riding arena to the tennis courts, the publication also made mention of Simona Halep, who is considered a tennis celebrity. In her late teens, reports indicate she decided to undergo a breast reduction surgery from a 34DD to 34C.

She candidly told the press, which was also highlighted in the Telegraph UK, that prior to her surgery her skill on the courts was compromised.

She added, “My ability to react quickly was worse and my breasts made me uncomfortable.”

Following breast reduction surgery and full recovery, her ranking at 57 leapt to 4 in Paris.

It’s only natural that when people hear about breast reduction surgery that they think of aesthetics. But truly, breast reduction surgery should also be viewed as providing relief to women who have endured so much discomfort and pain.

2Oct, 2015

Breast Reconstruction: Breaking the Silence

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Breast Cancer Cause Concept

When celebrities step forward and speak publicly regarding an issue, their words can make a profound impact. It brings not only awareness and dialog, but it can also raise funds toward a cause. While breast cancer awareness has been in the media spotlight, particularly during the month of October, celebrity Christina Applegate was one of the first to talk about her bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery.

Not long after, in 2013 Angelina Jolie Pitt made her public announcement about her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery because of her positive BRCA1 gene test results. Like other women who test positive for this test, Jolie Pitt wanted to eradicate the possibility of being diagnosed with breast cancer one day and was proactive in her decision to have the surgery.

It’s important to note that not all women who are diagnosed with BRCA1 decide to go to a plastic surgeon for this reconstructive procedure.  Others opt to have regular diagnostic screening, including MRIs.

With that said, Jolie Pitt’s announcement lit up media headlines around the world. It also fueled various studies.

For example, a research study from Austria recently emerged wanting to calculate how Jolie Pitt’s candid announcement trickled down to other women.

In Live Science, reporter Sara G. Miller revealed how the study showed that 92.6 percent of women were aware of a breast reconstruction procedure for those who lost one or both breasts due to cancer. Before Jolie Pitt’s public announcement the statistics were at 88.9 percent.

A total of 1,000 Austrian women took part in the study which was available online.

There was a poll taken one month prior to Jolie Pitt’s announcement and researchers wanted to see the effect immediately following the media coverage.

Head researcher of the study and assistant professor of plastic surgery at the Medical University of Graz in Austria, Dr. David Lumenta, said in a statement, “This is the first prospective report to prove the media’s effect on the healthcare-related issue of breast cancer among the general public.”

Because of the one-month retake of the poll, Lumenta described the study as a serendipitous design.

Other aspects comparing the two polls included awareness that one could have reconstruction using their own tissue versus breast implants. This increased from 57.6 to 68.9 percent; and approximately 1/5 of poll takers said Jolie Pitt’s announcement brought them a higher awareness toward breast cancer.

In a 2014 research study in the United Kingdom, numbers reflected a double increase in the demand for BRCA1 genetic testing. And those who wanted to learn more about prophylactic mastectomies and breast reconstruction were also noted to be on the rise.

Miller writes, “Another 2014 study found that although 75 percent of Americans were aware of Jolie Pitt’s announcement and surgery, less than 10 percent of the respondents fully understood how the BRCA gene affected her risk for the disease.” She went on to quote Lumenta in her article, “Since individual choice will become a driving force for patient-centered decision-making in the future, cancer specialists should be aware of public opinion when consulting patients with breast cancer.”

Frankly, anytime a celebrity opens up about their health struggles including breast cancer, infertility, or other diseases, it triggers knowledge and the desire to learn more. And knowledge is empowerment.