While it is a relief when those affected with cancer are free from it, the trauma causes to the body takes more time to heal. Often, the trauma causes depression, because some parts of the body might have been removed for treatment. Thankfully, for some parts at least, there are alternatives available.
For many women, losing one or both breasts can cause anxiety and depression and can even make them feel like less of a woman. Breasts are often seen as an integral part of defining femininity in terms of aspects such as sex life, clothing choices, and child rearing.
Patients who suffered from breast cancer and had mastectomy surgery to remove one or both breasts can get breast reconstruction surgery. This option eases the trauma of this life transition.
Breast Reconstruction Benefits
Breast reconstruction helps women:
• Get their shape back
• Create balance and restore symmetry
• Wear swimsuits and other clothing without feeling self-conscious
• Feel happier with their bodies
• Not worry about any external prosthetics that would need to be placed into the bra
Points to Remember
• Nipple sensation may not be fully restored, but with time, some degree may return.
• The surgery has evolved so much with newer techniques that post-surgical marks will be minimal and will usually fade over time.
• It may take over a year for the tissues to heal completely.
• You should inform your doctor before mastectomy that you are planning for a reconstruction procedure, even if it is not going to be performed immediately. This helps them to plan the best treatment for you.
• Smoking affects the healing process after reconstruction, so if you’re planning to have this procedure performed, you will need to quit smoking two months prior to the process.
• While reconstruction can be done immediately with a mastectomy, your doctor may advise you against it if you are to have chemo or radiation treatment after surgery, as it may delay the healing process. However, breast reconstruction can be done any time, even several years after mastectomy. If your cancer comes back later, the reconstruction will not affect your treatment.
• When one breast has not been affected by cancer, sometimes an additional surgery like a breast lift, augmentation, or reduction may be required in order to create better symmetry between the two.
Breast Reconstruction Process
There are two techniques of reconstruction:
• Implants: An implant filled with a saline solution or silicone gel is inserted into the chest to restore volume.
• Autologous flap reconstruction: Tissue from another part of the body such as the abdomen, thighs, or back is taken to reconstruct the breasts. An implant may also be required with this method.
Most women who have undergone this procedure say that breast reconstruction has lifted their moods and done wonders for confidence, dispelling anxiety and depression. While it does mean another major surgery (if you don’t go for it with the mastectomy, that is) with a recovery period of six to eight weeks, many women say that it is well worth it.
Exploring Your Options with a Medical Professional
The best way to find out more about your breast reconstruction options is by sitting down with Dr. Lawrence Glassman, an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon, during a consultation. Together, the two of you will determine the best reconstruction method for your case. To schedule your consultation, contact our office.