It often feels like we live in pretty scary times, especially with cancer rates practically flying off the charts. More women than ever before are undergoing voluntary mastectomies to save themselves from the chances of breast cancer, while others are forced to endure mastectomies as a result of spreading breast cancer. Either way, a woman who undergoes a mastectomy has her breasts, and thus what she might perceive as her womanhood, removed. The silver lining is that breast reconstruction surgery has now become a fairly standard procedure available to women immediately after a mastectomy. Here’s what you should know.
How Does Breast Reconstruction Work?
Breast reconstruction restores either one or both breasts to have normal shape, symmetry, appearance, and feeling. It can be incredibly difficult to lose one or both breasts and lose a sense of identity in the process, so breast reconstruction works to help women feel as feminine as they did before surgery.
Immediate reconstruction is often the best choice because it occurs immediately after the cancerous breast is removed. A plastic surgeon may use an implant for the reconstruction, use tissue from another part of the body, or a combination of both. The unique part about immediate reconstruction is that it allows the breast cancer surgeon and the plastic surgeon to collaborate to ensure the best results for the patient.
For some women, immediate reconstruction isn’t an option because radiation therapy and chemotherapy are still required after the mastectomy. Since those therapies can cause reconstructed breasts to lose their volume, texture, and shape, it’s best to wait until all therapies are done to begin reconstruction. Other women simply prefer to recover from the breast cancer and wait a few years before undergoing further medical procedures.
Every woman faced with breast cancer and mastectomy will make her own decision, but it’s helpful to know that breast reconstruction is an open option to regain a sense of normalcy.