Reconstructive surgery helps cancer survivors feel whole again

Reconstructive surgery helps cancer survivors feel whole again
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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For many with breast cancer, having a mastectomy is the best thing for their health and safety, but that difficult decision can leave women with feelings of emptiness. Hattiesburg plastic surgeon Dr. William Reno said helping women find the best option reconstructive surgery option to feel whole again is a favorite part of his job and something he does often.

"A lot. We do it very often," Reno said. "That's sort of the thing that nobody thinks about when they think of plastic surgery. They think more along the cosmetic lines, but a whole other side of the profession is the reconstructive side, of which breast reconstruction is an important part."

While he said the first surgery, the mastectomy to remove the breast, is often the hardest procedure for people to accept, reconstruction can be difficult too.

"It's tough," Reno said. "You know, it's tough to go through the reconstruction. You've got to come to grips that you have cancer, and then once you can realize it needs to be removed and life can go on without that, there are good options out there where we can make you whole again. So it's OK. We just want you be cancer free, and then once you're cancer free, we can address the rest of it."

One way he addresses it is tailoring the type reconstructive surgery to each patient.

"One (type of reconstructive surgery) is to use an implant based reconstruction," Reno said. "Another is to use some of your own tissue to rebuild the breast, and there's lots of ways to do that. We really talk to you, find out where you are now and then where you want to be when it's all said and done. So we can really tailor it to your specific needs."

Helping each person feel whole again makes breast reconstruction one of Reno's favorite procedures.

"Oh I love doing it," he said. "I love doing breast reconstruction. I love my ladies. We're good friends by the time this is all said and done, and I tell them that in the beginning. I say 'We're going to get to be real good friends.' It's going to be basically a year process by the time it's all said and done because it's multiple stages involved to get them to where they need to be."

And when they are there, Reno said they do feel complete.

"They do," Reno said. "I mean, they will tell you. More than one will come in and tell me and just give you a hug and say 'This has changed my life. I thought that it was going to be the end, but it's not.' And it makes you feel whole again, so it's a big difference. It's a big deal. It's something you don't really appreciate and understand, but when you go through that process, it's extremely emotional and stressful, and we're here to make that as easy as possible."