Women have option of 'near painless' breast reconstruction

Doctors say women with breast cancer have the option of nearly painless breast reconstruction. (SBG)

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in June, Kelly Chapman chose to have a bilateral mastectomy right away.

"I wanted to do as much as I could to make sure I have the best fighting chance of it not coming back later on," Chapman said.

She also opted for immediate breast reconstruction at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital using a technique calls a "game changer."

"I call it the near painless breast reconstruction," Pittman said.

Rather than put the implant under the muscle the traditional way, it's placed over the muscle.

"Putting the implants on top of the muscle -- not dividing the muscle from the rib cage -- completely changes the patient's pain level," Pittman said.

There's significantly less pain and a faster recovery.

Chapman went home the morning after surgery and for long walks every day that week.

"They weren't my usual fast pace, but they were definitely walks that didn't involve any pain," she said.

"She was able to come home like the day she left before -- absent one thing. The cancer was removed looking like herself, feeling like herself," Chapman's husband, Alex, said.

The procedure carries risks like infection, bleeding, implant rupture and rotation but Pittman said those are rare.

He added that cosmetic results are improved thanks to newer more natural looking "shaped implants" that don't ripple under the skin. And patients' breasts don't look flexed, like after traditional reconstruction.

"If you've ever seen a body builder flex their muscles and their chest bounces, we see that with implants that are under the muscle," Pittman said.

Three months after surgery, Chapman is in the midst of chemotherapy, but feeling great.

"It has been such an awakening of what love is, what true friendship is, and what really matters," Chapman said.