Deciding on breast reconstruction
Once you’ve decided to move ahead with having reconstruction, you and your doctor need to decide which procedure is most suitable for you. You’ll also need to decide when to perform the reconstruction, whether immediately along with the mastectomy, or at a later time after all cancer treatments are done. You’ll also need to decide if you want the healthy breast altered to better match the reconstructed breast in size and shape. Finally you’ll need to decide whether you want your nipple and areola reconstructed and whether you want nipple tattooing in order to match the color.
These are a lot of decisions to make.
MAKING YOUR DECISIONS
There are a lot of things to think about when making your choices about breast reconstruction. In addition to medical reasons to choose one option over another, there are also your personal values and preferences.
Questions to ask:
HOW WILL BREAST RECONSTRUCTION AFFECT YOUR LIFE?
Breast reconstruction may help you to feel better about your body: you may feel more “normal,” “balanced,” and feminine. It may also help you to be able to wear more kinds of clothes with convenience and comfort.
Some women are afraid that if the breast cancer returns, it will be harder to detect the tumor through a reconstructed breast than through a mastectomy scar. However, there’s no need to fear difficulties with cancer detection. Current evidence indicates that it is no more difficult to find and treat cancer through a reconstructed breast than it is through a mastectomy scar.
If you’re thinking about breast reconstruction and are interested in breastfeeding your children, you should know that you cannot breastfeed from a reconstructed breast. The parts of the breast that deliver milk are the most likely parts to develop cancer and are therefore removed during the mastectomy.
Having breast reconstruction may cause you some inconvenience during the period after the surgery. It’ll take time to recover, and there may be additional treatments or follow-up surgeries. Depending on which kind of breast reconstruction you choose, you may need up to six months or a year to fully return to your normal life.
Only you can decide whether the mental and physical benefits of having a new breast are worth the costs of having the surgery.
ADVANTAGES OF BREAST RECONSTRUCTION
DISADVANTAGES OF BREAST RECONSTRUCTION
If you think you might want to have breast reconstruction because you have had, or are about to have, breast surgery due to breast cancer, it’s a good idea to mention this before you have a mastectomy or lumpectomy. You don’t have to make a definite decision at this stage, but it will help the surgeon to plan your initial surgery.