Direct-to-implant: A new hope for breast cancer patients undergoing a double mastectomy

Posted at 9:41 PM, Apr 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-14 00:55:46-04

LITTLETON, Colo.--- The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that the number of women choosing to have a double mastectomy is rising.

Double mastectomies are rising in the west and mid-west more than other places, and researchers say it could be because treatment centers can be so far apart.

But a new procedure could allow a woman to remove both breasts, and immediately get an implant during the same surgery.

This procedure is called direct-to-implant and reduces recovery time while improving results.

Breast cancer survivor Amy Roach chose to have a double mastectomy and spoke with Denver7 about the decision.  

“My son was just about to turn 1-year-old. He was a little guy and I found a lump, and did all the stuff you’re supposed to do. Did the biopsy,” said Roach.

Roach was just 35-years-old when she found out she had breast cancer. Her son is one of the reasons she decided to have a double mastectomy after consulting with her doctor.

“When he found out how old I was and how aggressive my particular type was, it was a really really aggressive type of tumor. He said, 'you might not want to mess with it. You might just want to do a mastectomy because you’ve got a lot of years for it to come back,'” said Roach.

It’s a tough choice an increasing number of young women like Roach face.

In the past, women who wanted reconstructive surgery had to undergo the knife several times over a long period.

Roach decided that wasn’t the right choice for her.

“I sort of thought, you know, I’ve got this one-year-old, and I want to raise him and off with their heads. And I wasn’t really impressed with the results I saw back then,” said Roach.

Direct-to-implant wasn’t an option for Roach, but the new procedure is proving to be a game changer.

“In most cases women go in, they’re being treated and cured potentially for their breast cancer, in addition they’re waking up with their breasts completely reconstructed in a single surgery,” said Littleton Adventist Hospital plastic surgeon Dr. Lisa Hunsicker.

In the procedure, the breast tissue is removed and then immediately replaced with implants.

“This allows them to have one single downtime, one single recovery, and often times within six weeks they are back to work and back to exercising and back to taking care of their kids and they're back to their life and the cancer is behind them,” Dr. Hunsicker.

The procedure is covered by insurance, but it may not be for you.

Survivors say the stigma surrounding mastectomy results is changing, and what was good for your aunt or neighbor may not necessarily be the best plan for you, so it’s best to consult with your doctor.

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