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Bethany tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation on her 35th birthday. Having watched several family members battle cancer, she knew she wanted to avoid going through it herself. She says, "I wanted my generation to be the first generation to never hear the words, 'You have breast cancer.'" Living a long, healthy life was important to Bethany, so she decided to have both breasts removed prophylactically. She also decided to have breast reconstruction.
From the oncologist who discussed her BRCA test results, Bethany first learned about her breast reconstruction options. She knew that she didn't want implants. As she explains, "If it was possible to have a decent result...a good cosmetic result without implants, I didn't want to have something in my body that I wasn't born with."
Bethany decided on autologous breast reconstruction, with a DIEP flap on one breast and a SIEA flap on the other. DIEP flap breast reconstruction uses fat and tissue (not muscle) from the lower abdomen to create the breast mound. A SIEA flap also uses skin and fat from the lower abdomen, but uses a different blood supply.
Bethany was not happy with the scars left by her reconstruction. "I wish I had asked more about the placement of the incisions and where they were going to be when I woke up. So I had a revision about a year ago." Now, Bethany is very happy with the look of her breasts.
"I wanted to look like I did before my surgery," Bethany says. "I think I look better. Breast reconstruction has allowed me to continue my life. It's allowed me to feel just as much of a woman as I was before I had my breast tissue removed."
The method of reconstruction you choose will depend on a variety of factors. The best way to determine which procedure will best meet your goals is to meet with a qualified surgeon. You can use our Doctor Finder to find a breast reconstruction surgeon near you.
Read the full transcript of Bethany's story.