Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy: Her Doctor Shares Details on Surgery, Treatment
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Angelina Jolie’s Double Mastectomy: Her Doctor Shares Details on Surgery, Treatment

When a celebrity comes forward with a medical diagnosis, the hope is for others out there to either relate to what the star is going through or be inspired to take action to care for their own health.

Angelina Jolie's doctor, Dr. Kristi Funk of the Pink Lotus Breast Center, wrote a detailed blog post called "A Patient's Journey: Angelina Jolie," detailing the main stages of the actress's double mastectomy treatment.

"It is important to emphasize that each woman’s case is different," Dr. Funk writes. "Surgery will not necessarily be the right choice for everyone, and there are alternatives available. As Angelina says in her article, the important thing is to be aware of your options."

There are very detailed specifics for each stage, but here are the five she goes through in the post:

STAGE 1. Gathering Data and Information
STAGE 2. After diagnosis: Traveling the Road of Surveillance
STAGE 3. Committing to an operation
STAGE 4. Preparing for the operations
STAGE 5. Recovering from the operations

Here's her section from Stage 5:

"On February 2, 2013, Angelina was in the operating room for the first operation, the nipple delay. Her partner [Brad Pitt] was on hand to greet her as soon as she came around from the anesthetic, as he was during each of the operations.

After the operation, her skin was slightly bruised but soon returned to normal. Two days after her procedure, great news arrived: the tissue behind both nipples came back completely normal.

On February 16 she had the main surgery, which can last up to eight hours. The mastectomies went smoothly, with sentinel nodes identified but not removed. After the mastectomies, I assisted plastic surgeon, Dr. Jay Orringer, as we performed the first stage breast reconstruction by placing tissue expanders with allograft.

To a large extent, I believe recovery reflects expectation. Angelina expected to feel well, to be active. On Monday, the pathology returned and I called Angelina to confirm our biggest hope: all of the breast tissue was benign. On day four after her mastectomies, I was pleased to find her not only in good spirits with bountiful energy, but with two walls in her house covered with freshly assembled storyboards for the next project she is directing. All the while she spoke, six drains dangled from her chest, three on each side, fastened to an elastic belt around her waist.

The next day she had her first injection of saline into the expanders, thus beginning the process that would gradually prepare the tissues for the final stage of her operations, reconstruction. Four of the six drains were removed. Four days after that, on postoperative day nine, the last two drains were removed. A second saline fill occurred on March 4. Over the next four weeks she was hard at work.

The final operation occurred on April 27, 2013, ten weeks after the mastectomies: reconstruction of the breasts with implant, which went extremely well, bringing an end to her surgical journey."

Read a great deal more here. As she concludes, "Like Angelina, I urge women who feel they might have reason to be at risk for a BRCA gene mutation – perhaps because of a strong family history of cancer – to seek medical advice and to take control of their futures."

Source: Pink Lotus Breast Center

05.16.2013 / 12:00 AM EDT by Gina Carbone
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