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Cancer survivor gets breast reconstruction surgery and confidence back

Posted: 9:36 PM, Oct 10, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-12 14:54:02Z

BALTIMORE, Maryland — Following Breast Cancer treatment, many women are left feeling self-conscious and embarrassed about their appearance.

But there's another breast reconstruction option giving women a chance to feel more like themselves again.

One Maryland woman took that journey at MedStar Franklin Square.

Donna Purcell had a rough road to recovery after her breast cancer diagnosis. She has a lumpectomy, radiation and then multiple follow up surgeries on her right breast.

"In December I found out that they wouldn't be able to save the breast any longer so they removed the breast."

Purcell didn't feel like herself, and because of all the damage done to her breast, it wasn't easy finding a solution.

"Because of the radiation and how my body had responded to it, and them going in and going in, it wouldn't be a good thing, it wouldn't be a lot of doctors basically didn't want to touch it."

But there was one plastic surgeon up for the challenge.

"He looked at the breast and when he came out and told me it was something that could actually be done all I could do was cry because it was a long time coming."

Dr. Gabriel Del Corral is a reconstructive plastic surgeon at MedStar Health. He performed a "deip flap" on Purcell.

"Deep flap reconstruction, stands for the name of the surgery and it's a deep inferior epigastric perforator flap which means really the name of the artery in the vessel that we remove at that time to do the reconstruction," said Dr. Del Corral.

He says "deip flap" is when doctors take someone's abdomen tissue, the skin and fat and use that fat to reconstruct the breast.

"It's very similar to a tummy tuck procedure where the tissue is removed and thrown away, but in this case, we take the tissue out with a little artery and a little vein that we actually connect to the chest wall vessels to give blood supply to the new tissues that was removed from the abdomen," said Dr. Del Corral.

Dr. Del Corral says there are many reasons why a patient might choose this over an implant reconstruction.

"A lot of the times patients don't want to worry about the possibility of having, needing an implant or having the need to have a revision later in life," said Dr. Del Corral. " Another important reason is, it's really your own tissue so its a natural reconstruction so if you gain or lose weigh the tissue with change with you and if you age, the tissue will age with you."

The procedure changed Donna's life.

"I feel good, I can take my clothes off and look in the mirror and it's me," said Purcell. "To be able to look in the mirror and look like a human, basically without a deformity, was more important to me than anything.