MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WTVF) — Plastic surgeons have a new way to make sure their mastectomy patients can have same-day reconstruction.
When Renna Lockwood, of Lebanon, tested positive for a BRCA gene, she scheduled a preventive double mastectomy for January.
But the 53-year-old was concerned about the lag time between that surgery and reconstruction.
"Are you going to be looking the same?" she wondered. "Feeling the same? What are you going to be able to wear to look decent?"
Dr. Dwayne Lett is an aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon at The Lett Center in Wilson County.
"A woman should have an option if at all possible for immediate reconstruction," Dr. Lett said. "[It] shouldn't have to drag out and [she shouldn't have to] endure that depression. And it's devastating not to feel like a whole person."
In recent years, same-day reconstruction became the norm, but there were risks. Breast skin can can become thin after a mastectomy and therefore not be strong enough for another surgery.
Dr. Lett is one of roughly ten Middle Tennessee surgeons using Indocyanine Green Dye and this handheld Stryker SPY device before breast reconstructions. It's how he made sure Lockwood's sensitive tissue could handle a reconstructive surgery.
"What it does is allows us to access blood flow vascularity right on the table, in real time. For me as a surgeon, it's a great confidence builder. I think I can make a better choice for my patients at that time."
Lockwood was back on her feet two months after her mastectomy and same-day breast reconstruction. She hopes her experience shows other women, especially those with a BRCA gene, they have options.