• Cancer survivor performing

Mastectomy and Immediate Reconstruction a Winning Combination for Indiana Woman

Sharon Billo of St. John, Ind., has had breast cancer surgery twice in the last 10 years. The first was in 2005, when she had a lumpectomy to remove a tumor in her right breast, followed by a course of radiation therapy.

Unfortunately, a decade later, the cancer came back — this time in both breasts. Cancer surgeon Gary Peplinski, M.D., recommended a bilateral mastectomy, or removal of both breasts, to eliminate the possibility of a future recurrence.

“I was on the fence for a long time,” Sharon admits. After considerable thought and research, she agreed to the surgery in August 2014.

The first procedure involved removal of both breasts by Dr. Peplinski and the immediate insertion of temporary breast implants — or expanders — by plastic/reconstructive surgeon Matthew Endara, M.D., to begin the reconstruction process.

Since the skin of Sharon’s right breast had been compromised from previous radiation therapy, doctors recommended several sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to rejuvenate the damaged tissue with pure oxygen before proceeding with additional reconstruction of her breasts.

Several months later, Sharon underwent the insertion of a newer type of “form-stable” implants that are filled with gel and retain their shape better. After Sharon healed, Dr. Endara performed the final phase of the reconstruction process, an innovative technique called “fat grafting.” Fat grafting, also called autologous fat transfer, is emerging as a new breast reconstruction technique, and Ingalls is at the forefront of this trend. During fat grafting, fat tissue is removed from other parts of the body and then processed into liquid to recreate the breast.

With breast cancer behind her, the retired vocalist who once entertained local restaurant audiences with classics like “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” enjoys spending time with her family.

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