Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Marla Ahlgrimm on Breast Reconstruction

Marla AhlgrimmFor women with breast cancer, having a mastectomy is both a blessing and a curse, says Marla Ahlgrimm. On one hand, the cancer is gone, on the other, so is one of a woman’s most defining features. However, thanks to modern medicine, there are options to reshape the breasts.

Breast reconstruction, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, is essentially the addition of breast implants and potentially re-created areolas. Women who have undergone a single mastectomy may elect reconstructive surgery on one or both breasts.

Breast implants are typically placed in two separate procedures. The first Marla Ahlgrimm explains, involves inserting a tissue expander underneath the remaining skin and chest muscles. The expander device is gradually filled with a saline solution over the course of eight to 26 weeks. Once the expander has reached its capacity and tissue healed, a permanent implant is inserted. Depending on the woman’s breast structure, a physician may elect to place the implant at the time of the mastectomy.

In some cases, a woman’s nipples and areolas are spared during the mastectomy. When this is not possible, surgical reconstruction may be desirable to preserve the appearance of the naked breasts, asserts Marla Ahlgrimm.

Breast reconstruction is largely considered safe for breast cancer survivors who have completed radiation therapy. As with any surgery, it is not without its risks and the should be carefully considered prior to the decision to receive reconstruction with implants. Marla Ahlgrimm describes possible breast reconstruction complications as infection, hard tissue development around the implant, rupture, extrusion (the implant may break through the skin), blood clots, hematoma, and seroma of the reconstructed tissue.

Marla Ahlgrimm concludes by citing that the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires most private insurance companies to cover reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy.

For more information on this and other women’s health topics visit WomensHealth.gov.

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Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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