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"One and done" a promising option for breast cancer surgery

Warning: Some of the images in this video may be considered graphic
Changing procedures in breast cancer treatment 04:57

The newest advances in reconstructive surgery are taking some of the trauma out of mastectomies for women with breast cancer. In what doctors are referring to as the "one and done," surgeons first remove the cancer and then do breast reconstruction all in a single surgery.

Rebecca Matchett is a breast cancer survivor who had this surgery. A busy mother, she had a long family history of breast cancer and was diagnosed with the earliest form herself at the age of 35.

"My mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother all had breast cancer," Matchett told CBS News.

For treatment, she chose a bi-lateral nipple-sparing mastectomy. Her doctor removed the cancer then a plastic surgeon performed reconstruction surgery immediately after.

Matchett's doctor, Dr. Mehra Golshan, Chair of Surgical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said the benefits are huge. "Right after surgery you wake up and take a look down, you get to see the skin, the nipple, the size is the same as when she went to sleep and is something we couldn't offer a few years ago," he said.

A recent paper published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, urged doctors to "embrace" this procedure. The authors argue that it offers important psychological benefits, including an "immediate return to normal body image," compared to a delayed breast reconstruction procedure performed months later. The authors note that the procedure has been evolving over the past five years.

Breast health guidelines for women 04:33

But the "one and done" approach is not for everyone. Women who have had radiation -- or need it -- might not be candidates.

"Those who have radiation, their skin and body and tissue have already received a dose of radiation that inhibits or prevents normal healing," Golshan said.

Doctors also do not recommend the procedure for women who have diabetes or for those who are smokers. A woman with large breasts can also have drooping issues and should first discuss options with her doctor to see if she's a good candidate.

For Matchett, it took her about six weeks to recover from the procedure and get back to her busy life.

"If I had to drag it out over a several month period it would have delayed my life -- which I wasn't in a position to do that -- and I didn't want to do it," she said.

Three months after her surgery, Matchett became pregnant with her third child. "Now my focus is really on my family and my kids and making sure we really embrace the time," she said.

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