Breast Surgeon Says Jolie News Inspired N.J. Women to Seek Answers

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Dr. Richard D'Amico, a breast surgeon in N.J. and past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, says he is fielding more inquiries about reconstruction since the actress underwent a preventive mastectomy and staged reconstruction.

One of the lasting effects of actress Angelina Jolie's announcement in May that she underwent a preventive double mastectomy is an increase in questions about various breast reconstruction procedures, according to Dr. Richard D'Amico, a breast surgeon in New Jersey who specializes in reconstructive plastic surgery.

"Many women don't know about the truly impressive advances in breast reconstruction techniques," the New Jersey plastic surgeon says. "We can achieve results now that are much more pleasing aesthetically than in the past."

Dr. D'Amico is a past president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the largest association of plastic surgeons in the world, and has more than 25 years of experience as a plastic surgeon. During that time, he's seen the public's attention captured more than once by a celebrity undergoing a cosmetic procedure. But he says Jolie's announcement has had the most positive impact of all.

"Unfortunately, studies showed that many women who underwent mastectomies didn't receive complete information about their breast reconstruction options," D'Amico says. "In some cases, patients settle for reconstructed breasts that are not as natural looking because they don't know about all the techniques available."

One of the reasons for that is not all plastic surgeons are trained to perform the more advanced procedures, a fact that Dr. D'Amico says illustrates why it's so important to thoroughly research and question plastic surgeons before selecting one. Many women assume that breast implants are the only choice for reconstruction, he says. But many patients might be excellent candidates for an autologous tissue transfer procedure, in which the patient's own tissue, fat, and blood vessels are taken from another part of the body and used to reconstruct the breasts. The procedure often results in a breast that looks and feels more natural.

Another issue, Dr. D'Amico says, is studies have shown that only a third of patients undergoing a mastectomy are told by their general surgeons that reconstruction is an option. That's starting to change.

"Most of the attention in the wake of Angelina Jolie's announcement focused on the use of genetic testing to determine if a woman's chances to get breast cancer are higher than average,” Dr. D’Amico says. “But it also started a long-overdue conversation about breast reconstruction and making sure women know all of their options."

Dr. Richard D'Amico (http://www.drdamico.com) is a board-certified plastic surgeon and 2008 president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Dr. D'Amico earned his medical degree from New York University and has years of experience in both cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures, in addition to extensive training through residencies in general and plastic surgery. Dr. D'Amico has received extensive recognition for his achievements, including numerous awards as well as several upper-level professional appointments, serving as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and as co-chair of the ASPS Breast Implant Task Force, where he gave key testimony on breast implant safety to the FDA.

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