In a perfect world, Artoria Woodson of Fayette would never have had a high probably of developing breast cancer.
In this imperfect world, after a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, she became a perfect candidate for a breast reconstruction technique offered at the University of Mississippi Medical Center that uses fat, skin and blood vessels from a woman's abdomen to reconstruct her breasts.
“I knew I didn't want implants. Your body may reject it,” she said. “I'd rather use my own tissue instead of something foreign.”
And, this athlete and mother of three knew she wanted to spare muscle if she could.
As she began to research techniques she settled on a flap procedure called DIEP, for deep inferior epigastric perforator artery. Surgeons move fat, skin and blood vessels from the abdomen to rebuild the breasts. Then, using microsurgical techniques, they must reattach the blood vessels so the tissue will survive. Since no muscle is involved, most women recover more quickly and have a higher probability of maintaining abdominal strength.
Several breast reconstruction techniques move muscle from a woman's abdomen or back to aid in reconstruction. Reattaching blood vessels is easier.
Her decision to trust her surgery to Dr. Benjamin McIntyre, a fellowship-trained plastic surgeon, and Dr. Shawn McKinney, a fellowship-trained breast surgeon, was based on a feeling. Both are members of the UMMC Cancer Institute breast services care team.