Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- News19 is on your side when it comes to understanding your options in dealing with breast cancer. You need to know your options for treatment, and there's a product that could help you have fewer surgeries.
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"Most women, when faced with a diagnosis, are scared," plastic surgeon Dr. Ram Kalus says. "Will I lose my breast? How will this affect my relationship with my husband or boyfriend? How will I feel about myself when I look in the mirror?"
These are emotional questions. The biggest question of all--what comes next?
"Treatment options really do range, it depends on the type of cancer what type of chemotherapy if at all will be required whether it has spread at all and involves the lymph nodes," Kalus says.
Dr. Kalus is more than familiar with breast cancer. He's done thousands of breast reconstruction surgeries in the Midlands.
"A woman who's had a mastectomy at some point in the past is a candidate for reconstruction really forever," Kalus says.
Traditionally, reconstruction could take multiple surgeries, using skin from the patient's own body. Now, Dr. Kalus says regenerative medicine is changing that.
"We can actually complete, virtually complete the reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy was performed and what that does is it gives the patient that huge psychological benefit of never having to suffer the ordeal if you will of having to live with a mastectomy," he explains.
Dr. Kalus is using Alloderm, cadaver skin stripped of its cells to cover breast implants in surgery.
"Because Alloderm has all the cells removed it can't be rejected like you would reject a skin graft from a friend that doesn't match your genetics," Kalus says.
It also means a less invasive procedure for the patient.
"We would not use the patient's own skin or own tissue because the only incision that needs to be performed on that patient is the one from the mastectomy," he says.
Dr. Kalus explains Alloderm is stitched to the patient's own muscle during surgery.
"Once it sort of takes and heals on the inside it is at the cellular level almost indistinguishable because the patient's own blood vessels and cellular elements grow into it," Kalus says.
The patient is left feeling whole, even after her breast tissue is gone.
"She really never has to find that she's missing her breast, she now has her breast reconstruction all at the same time," Kalus says.