Angelina Jolie’s Breast Surgery Choice and Silicone Gel Implants

Angelina’s Wise Move:  A Plastic Surgeon’s Perspective

Angelina Jolie had to make a choice.  After losing her mother at the young age of  56 to ovarian cancer, Angelina chose to use modern medicine to assess her risk for a genetically-based female cancer. She tested positive for a mutated BRCA gene, which raises the risk for breast cancer up to 87%.  With the risk of breast cancer that high, Angelina made an extremely reasonable choice:  have double mastectomies to reduce the risk of breast cancer down to 5%.  This is less than the risk of the average woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime.

Angelina Jolie is an international superstar, a talented actress and a symbol of sexuality and glamor. Many people wonder if her career will change or whether or not she will lose her attractiveness. The answer is a definite no.

Plastic surgery and breast reconstruction has come a long way over the years. With the development of soft, silicone gel implants, plastic surgeons can recreate the volume lost with mastectomy by placing a suitable breast implant beneath the chest muscle. Since there was no breast cancer present as far as we know, the purpose of the mastectomy was to remove as much breast tissue as possible.  The procedure usually removes up to 99% of the breast tissue, which is why there is always a very small chance that breast cancer may form in the tiny amount of breast tissue which remains.

The breast tissue may be removed with a several inch incision hidden in the breast crease under the breast. Since the breast now only contains skin without breast volume, the plastic surgeon creates a lining of tissue to lift and move beneath the skin.   Once the breast tissue is removed, the chest muscle is elevated surgically.  A human collagen implant, similar to a sheet of skin, is sutured to the muscle and down to the breast crease.  A silicone implant is then inserted beneath this muscle and collagen layer.  If a nipple needs to be reconstructed, it can be easily done so at the same time or as a minor procedure later.

The results of a mastectomy reconstruction in a patient undergoing a preventative procedure, like Angelina, can produce very attractive breasts.  The breast may have a natural shape, with a soft feel and a minimum of scars.  Patients can wear attractive dresses, bras, and bikini tops without any evidence of the mastectomy procedure.  Even in the nude, a well-done reconstruction can look great.  Although breast reconstruction may require several procedures and revisions over a woman’s lifetime, maintaining life quality after mastectomy is now achievable.

If my wife were in a similar situation, she would have done the same thing.   Knowing what you know now, wouldn’t you?

Stephen D. Bresnick, M.D.
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Los Angeles, CA

Angelina Jolie’s Breast Surgery Choice and Silicone Gel Implants

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