Breast cancer surgery focuses on removal of a tumor to cure the disease. But doctors can also help patients get something back—whether peace of mind, physical strength, or, in many cases, the sense of wholeness that comes with reconstruction of a new breast. Drs. Joanne Lenert and Elizabeth Marshall are plastic surgeons at The GW Medical Faculty Associates who specialize in breast reconstruction. The services they offer include rebuilding a breast after mastectomy—using either an implant or the patient’s own tissue (or both); modifying a normal breast to match a reconstructed breast in order to give the best cosmetic result; building a new nipple and areola (including tattooing for color); correcting deformities after lumpectomy and radiation; and preventing lumpectomy deformities by various techniques including simultaneous breast reduction.
When it comes to breast reconstruction, Dr. Lenert says there’s no one method that’s right for every patient; she likes to work closely with each patient to help her choose what’s best for her. She warns her patients that breast reconstruction is a “process,” but one that can give excellent results. Dr. Lenert takes pride in seeing her patients reach the end of the reconstructive process. In fact, she’s started giving them a certificate to mark the event, telling them, “You don’t have to hang this on the wall, but realize you’ve finished something important.”
Aesthetics are always considered throughout the care plan. “When patients come to see me for reconstruction, they are often overwhelmed by all the information they are given and the initial uncertainty of their diagnosis,” says Dr. Marshall. “I make a great effort to slow things down and reassure the patient that I am here as a doctor and a friend and that I will help her make the best possible decision for her.”
First center in the District of Columbia