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Dr. Kim Mulvihill Reporting Surgery for breast cancer often involves total breast removal, but there's a new procedure that may help women preserve an important part of the breast. It can help cosmetically and emotionally. A relatively new procedure is now offering some women an alternative: the chance to preserve their appearance and sense of self by sparing their nipple.
Connie Munger was diagnosed with breast cancer eleven years ago, and had her left breast and nipple removed. "Even with my family history, I was not prepared," Munger says.
Her surgical team includes plastic surgeon Dr. Carolyn Chang and breast cancer surgeon Dr. Nima Grissom. The two specialists work in tandem. Dr. Chang removes the existing implant in the left breast, hardened by scar tissue and Dr. Grissom begins the nipple sparing surgery by removing all of Connie's breast tissue on the other side. In this way the nipple is preserved. After Dr. Grissom is finished, Dr. Chang puts adjustable saline implants in both breasts. Over time the breasts will be sized and balanced.
The procedure is not for everyone. The best candidates are women at high risk for breast cancer undergoing prophylactic mastectomies, those with smaller breasts and patients diagnosed with very early stage of microscopic cancers.
"As we find earlier cancer, we're able to offer less aggressive surgery with a better cosmetic outcome," says Dr. Nima Grissom.
About a month after her surgery Munger says she's 100 percent satisfied.