Designing Natural Breasts From Stomach Fat

These mastectomy patients had a DIEP flap procedure, where plastic surgeons use tissue from a tummy tuck for reconstructed breasts.
7:24 | 01/02/15

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Transcript for Designing Natural Breasts From Stomach Fat
Tonight, we're taking a look at a complicated medical procedure that's changing women's bodies and lives after cancer. Many survivors confront unexpected challenges after the battle, and for the women you're about to meet, mastectomies brought their own host of problems, not just physical, but emotional, too. They told ABC's Cecilia Vega about restoring their breasts and their self-esteem. Reporter: From answgelina Jolie -- I didn't know how people would react. Reporter: To Giuliana rancic. I just wanted to get the cancer out. Reporter: To Christina Applegate. I had a double mastectomy. Reporter: Some of Hollywood's biggest stars are going public in the press about a very private matter. Jolie shocking tinseltown in 2013 with her decision to undergo a double mastectomy after doctors told her she had an 87% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn't expect there to be so much support. It's connected me so much to other families, other women. Reporter: Other women like Jennifer fisher. She knows what it's like to get that terrifying diagnosis and joins the 100,000 women having mastectomies each year. That number rising significantly in the past decade. When I was first diagnosed and even to this day, sometimes you get discussion of, well, you're here. Like, you're here, you're a survive survivor. Like that should be enough. Reporter: Today, the wife and mother is a breast cancer survivor and much more. She's loving the results of a cutting edge transplant surgery that takes extra fat from the stomach and uses it to make new breasts. Happy with what you see? Oh, absolutely. I couldn't be happier. There's a part of me that wishes I would have done this sooner. I think I would have been able to put some of the feelings behind me sooner. Reporter: Implants are the surgery of choice for 80% of reconstructive patients. The alternative surgery, called the deep flap, takes longer in the operating room and comes with a longer recovery time, but Jennifer says it was all worth it. A lot only women who are going through recovery from breast cancer think they only have one option. You would tell them otherwise? Absolutely. I would tell them to seek all options available. Reporter: Kim Jordan is heading into the hospital for the same surgery that Jennifer had. How she'll look when it's all done is the last thing on her mind. Okay, you ready? I'm thinking, get the cancer out. I didn't really care. Just get the cancer out. Because I need to be there, because nobody in my family beats it. Reporter: The 50-year-old subway conductor can rattle off a long list of family members she's lost. This is my sister, she passed away. My oldest brother died of leukemia. Reporter: That's why when she got the diagnosis, she decided to get a double mastectomy. Ready for the adventure? Yes. Reporter: Michael Newman is one of just a few hundred doctors around the country who perform this relatively unknown operation. I think some plastic surgeons out there decide that it's too complex for them to do. And I think some patients do better with a simpler surgery. You're going to wake up and see a lot of people and then you're going to go back to sleep. It is very detailed and probably one of the more complex surgeries that we do. I'm worried, I just want to wake up. Promise me I'm going to wake up. Reporter: The reconstruction will take all day. It's too complex for Dr. Newman to do alone. This is his partner, Dr. Lisa jewel. I love doing this surgery. It is very scary sometimes. But at the end of it, this patient's going to look better after what can be a devastating experience. The amount of tissue we're going to remove off her abdomen is going to be five pounds. She's going to look thinner. Reporter: Eight hours into surgery, it's time for the riskiest part of the operation. This is the part we lose sleep over. This is an organ transplant. And then you have to connect it to a reliable and steady blood supply. So, we can make a great breast and then one or two days later, the issue dies. In that case, we would have to perform another type of breast reconstruction. Reporter: If successful, the transplants will grow with her body over a lifetime and will not require replacement like artificial implants do. The procedure is covered by insurance, because otherwise, the cost would be prohibitive. What else do you have? Reporter: Jennifer fisher's surgery was just three months ago, but her journey has been far longer. When Jennifer's daughter Katie was just a toddler, she got the diagnosis. Really at that moment, you change. You no longer are a mom and this and that, you become a person fighting this for everybody else. And yourself. Reporter: She had her breasts removed and got an implant, but it never felt quite right. Was always uncomfortable with the results. I had a lot of pain. Even with Tim plaimplant, I needed to wear a prosthesis. I would have never worn something like I'm wearing now. Reporter: When she went in the to get her implant checked two years ago, doctors found more cancer. This time, Jennifer decided on the deep flap. Eliminated the implant. We gave her healthy tissue that's soft and gave her fantastic about doe min at the same time. Immediately when I went to her, I felt that she understood what I was looking for. It's a huge lifestylish she for her. She can't go with rest of her life with pain, not feeling like she was ever happy with her reconstruction for the rest of her life. Reporter: The surgery motivated Jennifer to make some changes. She lost 30 pounds through exercise as she prepared for surgery. She looks great. She's gotten very, very skinny. Like, really, really skinny. And I'm really happy for her. Reporter: Back in the O.R. During Kim's surgery, the doctors are ready to shape the new breast. Patients will often use this opportunity to change their breast size. So this patient specifically asked to be smaller. And she has breasts that are going to look and feel age and change like breasts. Natural breasts. And she doesn't have cancer. Reporter: 15 hours later, they are finally finished. All right. Good job, team. You are going to feel really tired. Reporter: The recovery, long and painful. I want to walk a little bit now. But I'm getting there. But I'm cancer free. Yay. Hey, there. Reporter: But for Kim, no complaints. Can you already see the difference? Yes. Reporter: What's the difference? I have nice knockers, dude. Nice ones. Reporter: Jennifer is happy, too. She's no longer afraid of wearing form-fitting clothes. She's more active than ever. Dr. Jewel kind of liberated me a little bit to say, you deserve to have the body you see yourself having. Reporter: A survivor first, but also, proud to feel good in her own skin. For "Nightline," I'm Cecilia Vega in Torrance, California.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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