Breast reconstruction after mastectomy: A chance to feel good again
10/18/2013, 6 a.m.
Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer and then having to undergo surgery is a major life occurrence for a woman. In addition to being confronted with her mortality, she also must deal with her own changing perceptions about her breasts, her femininity, and her sexuality. After a partial or full mastectomy, the possibility of breast reconstruction can be a relief for women who are mourning the loss of a precious part of their bodies.
Although more and more women are choosing simple lumpectomies, also known as breast conservation surgery, many other women have to undergo radical surgeries that leave them without any breast tissue on one or both sides. Fortunately for them, advances in breast reconstruction surgery mean that it is possible to once again appear in a bathing suit in public.
Women considering breast reconstruction should consult with their doctor and a cosmetic surgeon before their mastectomy. This helps to ensure that all the options are clear for both the patient and the surgical teams. The better overall health a woman enjoys in terms of body weight and physical activity, the better her chances for a successful reconstruction.
One of the major considerations is whether to have reconstruction started immediately – performed at the same time as the mastectomy – or delayed reconstruction. The former is sometimes recommended for women who will have to have radiation because there is less chance that breast tissue will be scarred if the reconstruction is already under way. A delay is usually suggested for women who have to undergo radiation or who need time to quit smoking in order to speed up healing.