Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy
The statistics are alarming: 7 out of 10 women eligible for breast reconstruction following cancer surgery are not being informed of their options. All women should know their options. It's time to close the loop on breast cancer.
Studies have also revealed:
- Eighty-nine percent of women want to see what breast reconstruction surgery results before undergoing cancer treatment.
- Less than a quarter (23 percent) of women know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.
- Only 22 percent of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.
- Only 19 percent of women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts their options and results.
What is breast reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size following mastectomy.
There are three main procedure steps in any breast reconstruction:
- Creation of a new breast mound
- Touch-ups of the reconstruction, and possible modification of the opposite breast (lift, reduction) in patients having a mastectomy of one side (optional)
- Creation of a new nipple and areola (optional)
Is it the right choice for you?
Most breast cancer survivors who have had a complete or partial mastectomy (removal of all or some of the breast tissue and nipple) are candidates for breast reconstruction.
If you have had, or will need radiation therapy to the breast, it may influence the type of reconstruction, and when you can have it. Some patients will need chemotherapy after their mastectomy, and this too can affect the timing of your reconstruction.
While breast reconstruction is considered elective surgery, undergoing breast reconstruction can have profound emotional and practical benefits.
It is also important to keep in mind that breast reconstruction does not interfere with the treatment of breast cancer or surveillance for recurrence. It can, however, help to enhance your confidence and self-image after mastectomy.
The decision to have breast reconstruction is a personal one, to be made by you and your loved ones. It is important to know that not all patients are candidates for all types of reconstruction.
The type of reconstruction you undergo will be decided by you and your surgeon, depending on your particular needs, anatomy and previous treatments.