Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day 2021 Virtual Series

Presented by Minnesota Oncology and Plastic Surgery Consultants.

Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day is an awareness campaign designed to promote public education, patient care and research.

We have joined the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day movement to educate patients about breast reconstruction and women’s health.

We invite you to our BRA Day 2021 Virtual Series featuring our Breast Specialists. Every Wednesday evening in October we will discuss a relevant topic for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with a Q&A session at the end of each presentation.

Topics will include:

Please feel free to attend any or all dates.

Our Zoom meeting room will open at 6:00pm and offer breakout rooms with information regarding non-profits, support groups, bras, wigs and more. Our main presentation featuring our Breast Specialists will begin at 7:00pm.

Register for our BRA Day 2021 Virtual Series today!

Continue Reading

Announcing e-Registration for Patient Check-in

Making it easy for you, our patients to pre-register on your phone or computer prior to arrival, saving you time. 

We are happy to be partnering with Relatient’s digital patient engagement platform to provide our patients with electronic links to complete demographic and insurance information, consent signatures and check-in forms electronically. You can register and check in on your own device or an office tablet once you arrive at your appointment. Patients may register without logging in, creating an account, or remembering a password. 

Patients will be asked to complete the following information:  

  • Demographics,  
  • Referring/Primary MD  
  • Emergency contact 
  • Responsible party 
  • New patient history form  
  • General consent, 
  • Information disclosure  
  • Upload insurance cards 
  • Electronic signature 

E-Registration links will be sent out to our patients with valid email and phone numbers around 11:00 am, 5-days, 3-days and 1-day prior to your scheduled appointment 

E-Registration works best in Google Chrome and supports different languages. The language can be chosen at the top of the log-in page, then the rest of the workflow will be translated to the language of choice.  

Continue Reading

Does A Family History of Melanoma Affect You?

Is Melanoma Genetic?

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Unlike non-melanoma skin cancers, melanoma can spread quicker to other organs if not treated early. It forms within melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, which is the substance that determines your skin color. Ultraviolet light (UV rays) either from sunlight or from artificial sources like tanning beds, damage melanocytes. That damage can cause the cells to grow out of control. Turning into melanoma skin cancer.

There is evidence that a family history of melanoma can increase your risk for developing it too.

Family History of Melanoma and Genetic Factors

Compared to people who have no family history of melanoma, you are at greater risk if you have a parent, child, brother or sister who has had it. Overall, about 8% of people who develop melanoma have a first-degree relative who has also experienced it. Some 1-2% of those with melanoma have two or more relatives with it.

Researchers can’t pinpoint exactly why members of the same family are more prone to develop melanoma. It may be that they have similar interests, like hiking, boating or otherwise spending lots of time outside. Or, it could be a genetic abnormality that triggers melanoma to develop.

To date, two genes have been linked to familial melanoma: CDKN2A and CDK4. A small percentage of people with familial melanoma have mutations on these genes. However, many people with a family history of melanoma don’t have these gene mutations. Regardless, if you know there’s a family link, you need to take extra precautions to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

Am I at Risk for Melanoma?

Anyone can get melanoma, even people without a family history of the cancer.  And, at the same time, some people with close relatives who have had a melanoma will never experience it.

Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of developing melanoma or any other type of skin cancer.

Skin cancer risk reduction includes:

  • Never use tanning beds.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their peak.
  • Use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Apply it liberally 15-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours during the day, after swimming, getting wet or drying off with a towel.
  • Don’t use expired sunscreen. Check the expiration date before use.
  • Wear protective hats, long pants and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from sunlight.

Early Detection Increases Survival Rates for Melanoma

According to the American Cancer Society, half of new melanoma cases are expected to be invasive, which means the cancer grows deeper into the skin. Melanoma is a particularly aggressive cancer and can spread within the body in three to 18 months if not caught and treated early.

Once melanoma spreads, it becomes much more difficult to treat. So, if you have a family history of skin cancer, self-exams are vitally important. You should also have your skin examined annually by a qualified healthcare professional. Your doctor or nurse can identify suspicious growths on your skin before it has a chance to spread.

Skin Self Exams: What to Look For

When examining your skin, remember the ABCDEs:

  • Asymmetry. If you imagine a line drawn through the middle of a growth or discoloration, the halves would not match.
  • Border. The edges are uneven, fuzzy or jagged.
  • Color. Skin cancer can change colors and may be a combination of black, tan and brown.
  • Diameter. Suspicious areas are usually larger than a pencil eraser.
  • Elevation. If an area on your skin becomes raised or thick, it’s a warning sign that indicates cancer may be spreading.

You should get in the habit of examining your skin each month. This helps you determine what looks “normal: on your skin. That way, you can more easily decide if a freckle, mole and pigmented area has changed.

If you do find changes on your body or you identify new growths or pigmented areas that look odd or appear to be growing, consult a dermatologist as soon as possible.

Everyone is at risk regardless of family history. Practice self-exams regularly so you can become familiar with your skin and can seek help if something doesn’t seem right. If you notice changes, contact your doctor or dermatologist. They will refer you to an oncologist, like those on our team at Minnesota Oncology, who are experienced in the treatment of melanoma.

Sam Economou

About Dr. Economou: Dr. Economou, a native of Austin, Minnesota, is board certified in Aesthetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. He is skilled in all aspects of aesthetic/reconstructive surgery, including facial aesthetic surgery, breast surgery (augmentation, reduction, reconstruction), and melanoma treatment.


Continue Reading

Plastic Surgery Consultants to Host 3rd Annual Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day Event


Plastic Surgery Consultants, in partnership with Minnesota Oncology, is pleased to host our third annual Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day event! Many women who have undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy are unaware of their reconstruction and insurance coverage options, and this important day recognizes this often-overlooked part of the breast cancer journey.

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day is a FREE, annual event led by breast reconstruction expert, plastic and aesthetic reconstruction surgeon Dr. Valerie Lemaine.

This year, BRA Day is going virtual, which means more women can benefit from Dr. Lemaine's expertise. We hope you can join us!


6:30-7:30 PM: Presentation by Dr. Valerie Lemaine
7:30-8:00 PM: Q & A opportunity

Please submit questions to Dr. Lemaine will try to respond to as many questions as possible during the event.


Link to register:

Learn more about Dr. Valerie Lemaine.

Continue Reading

Plastic Surgery Consultants New Location Beginning 10/5

Plastic Surgery Consultants is relocating to the nearby Minnesota Center located at the Northwest corner of 494 & France in Bloomington. We will begin seeing patients in our new location on Monday, October 5.

Our New address is:

7760 France Ave South, Suite 1000 
Bloomington, MN  55435

Get map and directions

Our new office space features:

  • More exam rooms
  • Larger clinic waiting room area
  • Ample covered parking for patients and visitors
  • Newly remodeled atrium area of building
  • Food court on site
  • Convenient location at 494 & France in Bloomington
  • Location less than a mile from our current Edina office location

Continue Reading

Meet our New Provider: Katie Froyum, PA-C

Plastic Surgery Consultants is pleased to introduce our newest provider, Katie Froyum, PA-C. Katie is a Physician Assistant who comes to Plastic Surgery Consultants with several years of experience in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where she worked closely with Dr. Valerie Lemaine. She provides preoperative, perioperative and postoperative care for Plastic Surgery Consultants’ plastic and reconstructive surgery patients.

Katie received her bachelor of science degree with an emphasis in biomedical science and a minor in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. She earned her Master of Medical Science, Physician Assistant Studies from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL.



Continue Reading

Surgical Services Set to Resume Safely in Minnesota


by Matthew Graczyk, MD, Vice President of Surgical Services at Minnesota Oncology

On May 5, Governor Tim Walz signed an order to safely restart elective surgical procedures moving forward. Minnesota Oncology has been providing care throughout this unprecedented time and appreciates the additional flexibility this change will afford to the treatment of patients moving forward.

As we all continue to face new clinical challenges during this pandemic, I wanted to share that we are available to support all patients with enhanced care coordination including facilitating diagnostics and testing, securing authorizations, and determining appropriate treatment.

We continue to advocate on behalf of patients, making individualized care decisions after careful evaluation to determine the safest course of action for each case. In some circumstances, that may mean proceeding with a surgical procedure, while other circumstances may continue to warrant a virtual visit or adjustments to the sequence and timing of the patient’s care in order to limit the risk of exposure. These decisions are not made lightly and are made with careful consideration of each patient’s history, specific cancer biology, and based upon guidelines from leading medical societies. We will also take into account each patient’s personal requests and concerns related to moving forward with surgery.

Please let us know how we can support you during this time. Referring providers and clinics, please feel free to contact our liaison, Courtney Anderson. She can be reached at 612.309.3415 or

We’re all in this together.

Continue Reading

Melanoma Monday 2020: Prevention and detection during COVID-19


by Sam Economou, MD

Today, May 4th, is Melanoma Monday.  Normally, there are multiple skin screening events offered throughout the nation. This year, that isn’t possible. Instead, today you should examine yourself and/or your partner head to toe, looking for any unusual skin lesions. Hopefully soon, Dermatology offices will open again for skin exams, but many do offer telemedicine visits for patients until things normalize a bit.

In addition, as weather warms and we continue to spend more time outside, make sure you are applying sun protection, using an SPF of 30-50 and reapplying every two hours or when coming out of the water.

Recently, the National Cancer Institute released data showing that from 2013-2016, deaths from melanoma dropped 17.9%.  That is the largest drop seen over four years for any type of cancer. That is mainly because immunotherapy and targeted therapy used to treat metastatic melanoma have proven to be effective. The statistics will only improve over time as evolving new combinations of drugs are used more extensively. We have more treatments to offer melanoma patients today than ever before and are encouraged by the data emerging—it is working.

There is reason for hope for melanoma patients, but more emphasis needs to be placed on prevention of melanoma. This includes avoiding tanning booths, using sunblock, limiting exposure during peak sun strength hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and continuing efforts at self-exam and regular Dermatologic exams.

Hopefully, you will never need our services to surgically treat a melanoma.  But we are here for you and will make sure you are properly cared for.

Dr. Economou, a native of Austin, Minnesota, is board certified in Aesthetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. He is skilled in all aspects of plastic and reconstructive surgery, and has a special interest in breast surgery of all types, body contour surgery and facial aesthetic surgery.

Dr. Economou is a principal in Plastic Surgery Consultants. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He has also published professional articles regarding plastic and reconstructive surgery in medical journals and presented scientific papers at professional associations.

Continue Reading

COVID-19 Advisory and Updates


Surgical Services Set to Resume Safely in Minnesota (5/6/2020)

Mask Guidelines for Patients and Caregivers (4/15/2020)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently updated their coronavirus (COVID-19 virus) guidelines to recommend wearing face coverings whenever going out in public. For the safety of all of our patients and staff, Minnesota Oncology requires all patients and caregivers to wear face coverings when coming to our clinics.

Face coverings are material worn over the mouth and nose, such as a cloth mask or bandana.  They are usually made at home using common materials such as fabric scraps or a t-shirt. Minnesota Oncology clinics have been collecting homemade masks from generous donors, so if you do not have a mask available, please request one when you enter the clinic.

Face coverings help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus by keeping droplets from spreading in the air when the wearer breaths out, talks, or coughs. They are especially useful to help prevent people who have the COVID-19 virus but do not have any symptoms from unknowingly spreading it to others.

It is important to note that face coverings are not the same as medical facemasks and are not intended to protect the wearer from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Due to severe supply shortages, medical facemasks should be reserved for healthcare professionals and others who need this type of protection. Speak with your care team if you would like more information about medical facemasks.

Read more about face coverings.
Making masks? Please consider donating to Plastic Surgery Consultants and  Minnesota Oncology! Learn more here.

Telemedicine Now Available (4/13/2020)

Virtual appointments are now available for select office visits. For your safety and convenience, our expert team has begun to see patients through scheduled virtual appointments on a secure platform. Virtual appointments are only available for select office visits and cannot be used for emergency medical care. Visit our Telemedicine page for more information.

Visitor Guidelines Update (3/27/2020):

Beginning Monday, March 30, we are no longer permitting guests with patients with the exception of interpreters, those needed for mobility assistance, and new patient consults. We know this may cause some inconvenience to you, but our efforts right now are focused on the health and safety of our patients, families and employees. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

What Minnesota’s Stay Home Executive Order Means for Minnesota Oncology and Plastic Surgery Consultants' Patients (3/25/2020):

In light of the Stay Home Executive Order announced by Minnesota Governor Time Walz on March 25, we wanted to reassure you that Minnesota Oncology remains open to provide medically necessary, life-sustaining care. Our office is committed to the health and safety of our community and has implemented rigorous policies and procedures to limit the exposure risks of any individual visiting our clinics.
Read the full statement.

Important Information:

  • If you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, you should contact Minnesota Oncology before visiting our clinics for scheduled appointments. 
  • For the safety of our patients and staff, we are no longer permitting guests with patients with the exception of interpreters, those needed for mobility assistance, and new patient consults.
  • We also ask that patients in the infusion areas (where our most immune-compromised patients are) DO NOT have visitors unless it is necessary for your care.
  • Any non-essential vendors, suppliers, and visitors are currently not allowed in our clinics.
  • We are working to reschedule or delay clinic visits which may not be essential at this time. We are in the process of implementing telehealth options as well. Your clinic will be in contact with patients whose appointments fall into this category.
  • Due to the large volume of calls we are receiving: If your appointment is not in the next 72 hours, please do not call your clinic. We will be addressing all patient appointments at least 48 hours ahead of your scheduled appointment.

 Note: This page will be updated continually with the latest information for Minnesota Oncology patients and caregivers. Thank you for your continued cooperation and understanding as we work to keep you safe!)

How You Can Help

If you are healthy and seeking ways to help in the midst of this crisis, we will continue to share some options here:

Donate Supplies

We are facing a pandemic and the role of our healthcare workers is critical. Our oncology staff is in needs of supplies. Cancer doesn't take a break during a pandemic, and neither does our care. Please visit the link below to complete our donation survey and learn more about our process. Thank you for considering a donation!


Blood Donation

Due to COVID-19, it is highly likely that blood donations are down.  A healthy blood supply is important to our patient population. Please consider a donation to one of these organizations:

Continue Reading

A Plea to Women with Textured Breast Implants: Talk to Your Doctor Today

Note: The article below originally appeared in Cure on November 25, 2019.

As a plastic surgeon, patient safety is my top priority. I want anyone with breast implants to be aware of a recent recall linked to a rare lymphoma that may affect them.


As a plastic surgeon, patient safety is my top priority. I want anyone with breast implants to be aware of a recent recall linked to a rare lymphoma that may affect them.

In July of 2019, the breast implant maker Allergan issued a textured breast implant recall following safety concerns about the implant and its link to a rare type of lymphoma. These textured implants have been linked to breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), which can develop around saline and silicone breast implants with textured surfaces.

There have been 13 deaths in the U.S. and 33 deaths worldwide linked to this lymphoma. Depending on the study or region, incident estimates range from one in 1,000 women to one in 30,000 women. This lymphoma develops anywhere between two years and 28 years after the implant surgery, with an average of eight years. 

The Food and Drug Administration is taking action. In October, it announced that surgeons should discuss the serious risks of these implants with women and that manufacturers should print bold warnings on the device packaging.

While there are many uncertainties about BIA-ALCL, we do know that the women who have developed this lymphoma exclusively had textured breast implants. It does not matter if the implants are saline or silicone; it’s all about the surface of the implant being textured. It is also important to note that it is not a cancer of the breast tissue itself.

Though this cancer is rare, it is important for women to recognize the signs. The main symptom of BIA-ALCL is a swelling of the affected breast. The swelling is caused by fluid that builds up around the implant. It is not a subtle amount of fluid; the breast will look visibly larger and it can be a drastic change. This swelling will occur relatively rapidly in a matter of days or weeks, so women should know that something is wrong. Less common symptoms include a lump in the affected breast or in the armpit, hardening of the breast, an overlying skin rash and associated pain.

To diagnose this lymphoma, the first step is usually to do an ultrasound of the breast. The treatment for this lymphoma would be to surgically remove the implant and the scar tissue around it. Typically, that is the only course of treatment needed for people who seek care in a timely manner. In cases where the disease is more advanced, additional treatment may include chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Women who have died from this lymphoma did not seek care in a timely manner, so I urge women with textured breast implants to do regular self-breast exams and visit their plastic surgeon annually at the very least. Staying informed, in tune with your body and in touch with your doctor will give you the best chance for an early diagnosis and positive outcome.

Dr. Valerie Lemaine is a leading plastic surgeon in Minnesota. She practices with Plastic Surgery Consultants/Minnesota Oncology.

Continue Reading

Tummy Tuck #101: What you should know

Note: The article below originally appeared in Minnesota Spokesman Recorder.

by Valerie Lemaine, MD, MPH, FACS

Dear Dr. Lemaine, at our family picnic this past Memorial Day, my aunt announced that she was going to have “tummy tuck surgery.” What is that?

Tummy tuck surgery is a cosmetic surgery that involves removal of excess skin and fat in your abdomen, and, in most cases, tightening of weakened or separated abdominal muscles (that famous “six pack”). The medical name of the procedure is “abdominoplasty.”

After the abdomen has been stretched, it is more likely to protrude. This protrusion is caused by the loss of elasticity of the skin, excess skin, and stretching of your abdominal muscles.

With tummy tuck surgery, your abdomen will look firmer, flatter, and smoother. Tummy tuck surgery is not the same as liposuction. Liposuction removes flab or excess fat only. It does not take care of excess skin. You may choose to get liposuction along with a tummy tuck.

Who should consider surgery?

A tummy tuck is suitable for men and women who are in good health. Good candidates are those who have lost a lot of weight and still carry excess fat and loose skin around the belly. Also, women who have been pregnant may want a tummy tuck to get rid of the loose skin and to tighten their abdominal muscles.

A tummy tuck isn’t the right surgery for you if:

  • You plan to lose a lot of weight. A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise. It should be done as a last resort after you have tried regular exercise and weight control.
  • You plan to get pregnant. It is advisable to postpone your surgery until after you’re done having children.
  • You are a smoker. Smoking increases your risk of complications and slows healing. If you smoke, your plastic surgeon will recommend that you stop smoking before your surgery and during your recovery.
  • You have major health problems. If you have health conditions, such as heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or diabetes, tummy tuck surgery may not be safe for you.

Also, note that health insurance generally does not cover cosmetic surgery that is performed without a medical reason.

How a tummy tuck is done

During a tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon will cut your stomach skin — from hip bone to hip bone — to remove excess skin and fat from your abdomen. If you previously had a C-section, your plastic surgeon might be able to incorporate that scar into your tummy tuck scar. If you have stretch marks below your belly button, there is a good chance that those stretch marks will be removed with surgery.

In most cases, the abdominal muscles are then tightened with sutures during surgery. The remaining skin is then repositioned to create a more toned look. Your belly button will also be moved during surgery.

After surgery, your plastic surgeon will recommend how long you will stay in the hospital. In some cases, it is possible to go home the day of surgery. You will need ice packs and to wear loose, comfortable clothing that is easy to put on and take off.

What can you expect after surgery?

Your abdomen will be swollen and tender. Your plastic surgeon will prescribe pain medication. You will also wear special dressings on your scars, and a compression garment.

You may have a surgical drain coming out of your abdomen. If your abdomen feels tight, you should sleep in a beach chair position, with pillows under your knees. You will have to limit physical activity for at least six weeks after surgery. You may need to take up to one month off work, depending on the type of work you do.

Surgery risks

In addition to the standard risks of surgery, for example, the risks associated with general anesthesia, your plastic surgeon should discuss other risks associated with tummy tuck surgery, such as:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Wound healing problems, including slow healing and loss of skin
  • Numbness
  • Fluid accumulation beneath the skin (also known as “seroma”)
  • Scarring
  • Loss or malposition of the belly button
  • Blood clots

By removing excess skin and fat, and tightening your abdominal muscles, a tummy tuck can improve the appearance of your abdomen. Results are usually long lasting as long as you maintain a stable weight after surgery.

If you are considering tummy tuck surgery to improve the appearance of your abdomen, you should meet with a skilled board-certified plastic surgeon.

Dr. Valerie Lemaine, M.D., M.P.H., is a board-certified plastic surgeon in private practice in Edina, MN. She received her M.D. from the University of Montreal, Canada, and her M.P.H. from Columbia University, NY, USA. She also completed a reconstructive microsurgical fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Lemaine then accepted a staff position at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, where she taught, practiced, and published clinical research until 2018 and now has a clinical practice in Edina, MN. Dr. Lemaine can be reached at

Continue Reading

Breast reconstruction surgery: For some women undergoing mastectomy, it’s a great option

Note: The following article originally appeared in Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

by Valerie Lemaine, MD, MPH, FACS

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that breast cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer in women? Today, about one in eight women born in the United States will get breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. The good news is that if the cancer is found and treated early, most women can survive breast cancer.

But did you know that for women who need a mastectomy, breast reconstruction is an option that is covered by your health insurance provider? In the United States, there are two laws you should know about that protect you if you are considering breast reconstruction after mastectomy:

  • Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) was signed into federal law in 1998. It requires most group health insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction.
  • Breast Cancer Patient Education Act (BCPEA) was signed in 2015. This law requires that if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you should be informed about the availability of breast reconstruction and breast prostheses.

Breast reconstruction options

Breast reconstruction is serious surgery to rebuild your breast(s), and it should only be considered with a skilled, board-certified plastic surgeon. You need to find a plastic surgeon who makes you comfortable, who listens to you and explains the surgery in ways you can understand.

It is your right to make an appointment with another plastic surgeon to get a second opinion if you aren’t comfortable with the first one you meet. Reconstruction usually involves more than one surgery, so you want to choose a plastic surgeon you really get along with!

When is breast reconstruction done?

Breast reconstruction can be done at the same time as the mastectomy (we call this “immediate reconstruction”), or in a separate surgery done several months or even years after the mastectomy (we call this “delayed reconstruction”).

Types of breast reconstruction

There are two types of breast reconstruction surgeries you need to know about:

  1. Breast reconstruction using breast implants
  2. Breast reconstruction using your own tissue (also known as “autologous breast reconstruction” or “tissue flap reconstruction”)

Breast reconstruction with implants

If you choose implant reconstruction, your plastic surgeon may use a temporary device called a tissue expander at your first surgery. The tissue expander is used to create a breast shape under your skin or under your chest muscle, where the future permanent breast implant will go. Sometimes, the permanent breast implant can be placed at the first surgery, which means that your reconstruction can be completed in one step.

Breast reconstruction with implants usually requires less surgery than if you choose the tissue flap. The length of surgery and the amount of time you need to recover are also usually shorter with breast implants than with a tissue flap reconstruction.

Still, you may require more than one operation to build your breast(s) with implants. Also, keep in mind that you may need more surgery in the future to change your breast implants because they don’t last a lifetime.

Breast reconstruction using your own tissue

If you have a tissue flap reconstruction (also called “autologous reconstruction”), your plastic surgeon will take tissue (skin, fat and sometimes muscle) from one part of your body to build a breast shape. Most of the time, the tissue is borrowed from your belly, but it can also be taken from your buttocks, your inner thighs or your back.

Tissue flap reconstruction can be done in two ways: Sometimes, the tissue will be completely detached from your body and placed on your chest. We call this a “free flap.” Your plastic surgeon may choose to leave the tissue flap attached to your body and move it under your skin to your chest. We call this a “pedicled flap.”

To do a free flap reconstruction, your plastic surgeon needs to have trained in microsurgery, which is a specialized skill that not all plastic surgeons have. With microsurgery, your plastic surgeon will reconnect the blood vessels from the tissue flap that was detached from your body to blood vessels in your chest area, so that the tissue flap can receive blood flow and stay alive.

Because those blood vessels are pretty small, your plastic surgeon will use a microscope to reconnect the blood vessels, hence the name “microsurgery.” Because of this, free flaps are a longer and more complex surgery than pedicled flaps.

Breast reconstruction using your own tissue has one major advantage over breast implants: It usually lasts a lifetime. Also, it feels more natural than breast implants because the tissue flap is mostly made of fat, just like our breasts.

Related storyBreast reduction surgery: for some, it’s a good option with exceptional results

It is important to know that flap reconstruction involves a longer surgery, and also a longer recovery, because you are healing more than one body part at the same time: Your breast needs to heal, but so does the area where the tissue was borrowed from. Because of this, tissue flaps are not a suitable option for everyone

It’s a personal decision

Whether you were diagnosed with breast cancer, or if you are at very high risk of developing it in the future (remember Angelina Jolie’s story?), if you need a mastectomy, breast reconstruction surgery may be an option for you. Keep in mind that no matter which type of breast reconstruction you choose, there is no “one and done” option.

Rebuilding a breast often requires more than one surgery. Also, in the future your breast reconstruction may need adjustments because our bodies change over time.

Women who have had breast reconstruction report improved self-esteem and body image. Having said that, some women choose not to have breast reconstruction because they don’t want to have additional surgery.

The decision to reconstruct or not is very personal. You can’t predict how you will feel after losing a breast. Some women feel sad and anxious, while others don’t.

Talk to your doctor and request a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Many of my patients have told me that having breast reconstruction was one of their best decisions.

Dr. Valerie Lemaine, M.D., M.P.H., is a board-certified plastic surgeon in private practice in Edina, MN. She received her M.D. from University of Montreal, Canada, and her M.P.H. from Columbia University, NY, USA. She also completed a reconstructive microsurgical fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Lemaine then accepted a staff position at the prestigious Mayo Clinic where she taught, practiced and published clinical research until 2018. 

Continue Reading

Information about textured implant and tissue expanders recall

An important message from Dr. Valerie Lemaine:

I would like to remind all of our patients who have had breast surgery with implants, either reconstructive or aesthetic – to maintain regular, yearly follow-up appointments with Dr. Valerie Lemaine.

On July 24, 2019, the implant device company Allergan issued a recall on BioCell textured implants and tissue expanders. This was done based on concerns that textured implants are associated with a very rare type of cancer called BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma) that can occur in and around the tissues around a textured breast implant.

It is important to stress that BIA-ALCL is extremely rare, even if someone had a breast reconstruction or a breast augmentation with textured implants or tissue expanders. To date, 573 cases of BIA-ALCL have been described worldwide, which includes 33 deaths. This is out of approximately 25 million women in the world who have breast implants. Fortunately, if caught at the first sign of swelling, BIA-ALCL is curable by removing the implant and the connective tissue capsule that forms around the implant.

So what does this mean for you? Currently, given how rare BIA-ALCL is, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend removing textured implants for prevention only. Instead, it is important to follow-up regularly with your plastic surgeon; either with Dr. Lemaine, or another board-certified plastic surgeon.  (If you need help finding a board-certified plastic surgeon near you, please visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons website at

What should you be on the lookout for? Signs and symptoms of BIA-ALCL include swelling, pain, asymmetry, or lumps or masses. Though gradual changes in breast shape do occur over time, any changes that seem abnormal, sudden, or unusual should prompt a call to our office so we can schedule you to come in for a check-up. The vast majority of the time, these findings do not represent anything serious; however, it is always wise to be vigilant and follow-up.

 Your health and safety are and always have been the most important thing to me, as your plastic surgeon. Please feel welcome to call the office any time with questions or concerns. If you currently have silicone breast implants, textured or smooth, please ensure you have a regular follow-up visit scheduled with Dr. Lemaine.

 We look forward to seeing you at your next visit,

 Valerie Lemaine, M.D., M.P.H., FRCS(C), FACS

Continue Reading

Injectables Now Available at Plastic Surgery Consultants

Injectables at Plastic Surgery Consultants are done by our plastic surgeons. We perform a comprehensive array of advanced facial procedures to help you achieve your aesthetic goals and restore your youthful appearance without plastic surgery. Our plastic surgeons will recommend treatments that are tailored to address your concerns. We offer Botox and Fillers.


Botox (or other neuromodulators like Xeomin, Dysport or Jeuveau) temporarily smooths out the muscles of the face and neck. This technique is especially powerful for erasing forehead wrinkles, crow’s feet, and furrows between the eyes, all of which can make a person look upset or angry even when he or she is not.  Botox can also be used to treat excess sweating. 


Fillers, including Juvederm, Restylane, Voluma, Vollure, Radiesse, Sculptra, and Belotero, among others, are FDA approved products that add subtle volume to the face. They can be used to augment the fullness of the lips and fill hollow areas under the eyes. Fillers can also be used to fill in deep wrinkles and creases, such as the ones that appear in the nasolabial folds (the lines around the mouth), marionette lines (the lines near jowls), and the glabella (the lines between the eyes).

 Request a consultation using the online form or call us at (952)746-6767 to schedule an appointment.

Continue Reading

Plastic Surgery Consultants to host free melanoma screening

Screen the skin you’re in at this free, family-friendly event in honor of Melanoma Awareness Month! Minnesota Oncology and Plastic Surgery Consultants are hosting a free skin cancer screening and education on skin cancer and prevention! In order to be screened, you must click the sign up tab below and register. Please register each person individually. Please arrive no earlier that 10 minutes prior to your registered time.

Continue Reading

Dr. Valerie Lemaine Joins Plastic Surgery Consultants

Dr. Sam Economou is pleased to welcome board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Valerie Lemaine to Plastic Surgery Consultants. Dr. Lemaine joins the practice on May 14. 

Dr. Valerie Lemaine is board-certified and a diplomate of both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada. Dr. Lemaine is University of Montreal Medical School-instructed and plastic surgery-trained. Her impeccable credentials also include reconstructive microsurgery and clinical research fellowships at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, as well as receiving a Master’s Degree in Public Health at Columbia University.

Continue Reading