Healthy woman had both breasts removed and restored on live TV

A new kind of breast cancer surgery is getting more popular thanks to Angelina Jolie

When 36-year-old Camilla had both of her breasts removed and restored today at Aarhus University Hospital, it was played out in front of the rolling cameras.

The surgery was transmitted to medical students at Aarhus University. For the first time the press was invited inside the auditorium as well, so everyone in Denmark could follow the procedure live on TV2 News.

She wasn't even ill, but a test recently showed that she was carrying the gene BRCA-1, which gives her an 80 percent risk of developing breast cancer.

Did it for her kids
"Many in my family had cancer and I have seen the consequences it had," Camilla said in a press release from Aarhus University Hospital.

"I'm doing this for my children, so I can be with them when they grow up."

Camilla decided to have both of her breasts removed, thereby reducing her risk from 80 to 5 percent. The BRCA-1 mutation also increases her risk of getting ovarian cancer so she will also have her ovaries removed at some point.

During a so-called nipple-sparing mastectomy, surgeons remove the breast tissue around the nipple and then fill the empty breast with implants. 

While breast restoration after a double mastectomy is performed at the hospital one to two times a week, the specific technique used for Camilla's surgery had only been tried on five patients at the hospital before her.

Angelina Jolie’s cancer surgery
It’s not as uncommon in the States, though.

That is why Andrew Ashikari, an American breast surgeon of St John's Riverside Hospital in New York, was in charge of the operation today. He has carried this specific preventive surgery out 400 times throughout his career.

Procedures like Camilla's are getting increasingly popular in the US after actress Angelina Jolie last year revealed she carried the BRCA-1 gene and had both of her breasts removed and restored.

"We are experiencing considerable interest from patients who want to get preventive breast surgery. Angelina Jolie has raised awareness of the options people have if they are at risk of developing breast cancer," Ashikari said.