Actress, humanitarian and mother of six’s preventative mastectomy and reconstruction expands dialogue and raises awareness about women’s health
Angelina Jolie’s preventative double mastectomy and subsequent breast reconstruction resulted in a firestorm of publicity. Not only did it create dialogue about what to do when testing positive for the defective BRCA1 gene as Jolie had, but also about the type of reconstruction.
The defective BRCA1 gene increases breast cancer risk by an estimated 87 percent. In Jolie’s case, the facts that her mother, her maternal grandmother and most recently, her aunt died of the disease added weight to her decision. Breast cancer risk drops to below 5 percent after a preventative double mastectomy.
Jolie’s choice of “teardrop” implants also ignited discussion. Teardrop or shaped implants are contoured and are considered the most natural, both in look and feel. Jolie’s three surgeries were done through the creases underneath her breasts, a common procedure which minimizes incision lines. The first focused on saving the nipples and the second was a total mastectomy, in which the breast tissue was removed and tissue expanders were put in place. No cancer was found.
While some women have implants at the same time as the mastectomy, Jolie chose to have a third surgery for their final placement to help ensure the best cosmetic outcome. The surgery also utilized donor skin to provide support and contour to the implants. From start to finish, all three surgeries took less than three months.
Both Jolie and her physician are pleased with the results. Adds Jolie: “I have been very happy just to see the discussion about women’s health expanded, and that means the world to me and after losing my mom.”
Angeline Jolie by oparazzi photos on Flickr