Having breast cancer is a traumatizing experience. Not only must a patient go through the treatments, she must also decide whether to have breast reconstruction if part or all her breast is removed.
What factors go into deciding whether or not to have a breast reconstruction? Our society puts a lot of emphasis on appearance. Many women feel better about their bodies if their bodies look “normal.” Breast prosthetics just may not do the job. Many women also want their bodies to feel as natural as possible. While a reconstructed breast will not feel exactly the same as the one that was removed, it will still both feel and look more natural than using a prosthetic or not having any surgery at all.
Even though there are many positives associated with breast reconstruction, there are still risks when any kind of surgery is involved. Additionally, reconstructing a breast may take more than one operation before you are happy with the results. Nipple reconstruction requires even more surgery. A woman considering these procedures should weigh all of the surgical risks against her perceived outcome.
When to Schedule Surgery
You should discuss your options with your surgeon. It is not necessary to schedule a breast reconstruction immediately after a mastectomy. Each individual woman needs to make decisions about these procedures at her own pace.
There are two kinds of implants available today. One is a shell filled with silicone gel and the other is a shell filled with saline, or salt water. Silicone gel implants may not be available to you. They can only be used under restricted circumstances, including implanting right after obtaining a mastectomy or if you are participating in a Food & Drug Administration study. Your surgeon will have more details to discuss with you on this subject.
Types of Surgeries
Skin expansion is the most common type of surgery. This procedure involves expanding the skin over your breast area over a period of time and then inserting an implant.
Flap reconstructions utilize skin, muscles, and sometimes fat taken from other parts of your body to create a new breast. It may be necessary to insert a small implant in conjunction with these types of procedures. In some cases, the muscles and skin remain connected to their original blood supplies.
Women who have breast cancer today have a better chance of making the five-year mark than ever before. There are also ongoing studies and research into how to improve survival rates even more. Breast reconstruction, if you desire it, can improve your self-confidence and quality of life. Make sure that if you are considering reconstructive surgery that you thoroughly discuss your options with your surgeons and physicians.