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Breast Reconstruction And Deciding When To Opt For It

The high-stakes decision, which is thrown at women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, is whether to resort to breast reconstruction. But it may be one of those decisions which can wait. But women interested in surgery to restore their breast shape, immediately after mastectomy and breast reconstruction in that same single operation, has it’s advantages. While some may choose to defer reconstruction or even decide against it entirely, women deserve to know their options based on view-points of a plastic surgeon and patient about breast-reconstruction timing. When coping with the avalanche of information and treatment decisions as a woman just told that she has breast cancer, it is tough to even deliberate about reconstructive surgery, too. While not every woman is a candidate for immediate reconstruction, it’s often a good choice, especially for early stage 1 or stage 2 breast cancer.

Time to Choose

You can undergo reconstruction at any time and it doesn’t have to be at the same time as mastectomy. Most women have it later as they’re not given the option at the time of diagnosis. Immediate reconstruction means you don’t have to live without a breast. Better aesthetic results and lesser chances of scarring are possible with immediate reconstruction surgery, compared to results from separate operations for mastectomy and breast reconstruction. A sense of hurriedness, while reasonable, should not obscure the significance of the reconstruction itself. A mastectomy, mere 2 weeks since it’s diagnosis is not unlike a mastectomy 4 weeks after your diagnosis as those 2 weeks you gain do not really alter your outcome.

Immediate reconstruction will not delay your treatment or have any effect on the post surgery outcomes of the cancer, according to the reports from a research study conducted in 2011. It found a low risk of complications, including those related to radiation therapy, and no significant treatment delays. Complicated treatment scenarios have been noticed with patients getting chemotherapy through main intravenous lines, developing blood clots and this could delay the procedure of breast reconstruction.

Decision Details

Fortunately no issues occur in immediate reconstruction cases, as long as the surgeon is good at their job and take the time to consider what was right for the patient’s individual wishes and athletic body type with discussions on probable size and shape needed. It was really bizarre to sit there and pick out your future breasts. The size, shape and timing of breast cancer surgery are not the only decisions that have to be made by the patients when it comes to breast reconstruction surgery. Another important decision is choosing between implants and tissue flap procedures. Tissue flap reconstruction is a procedure which makes use of a patient’s own body tissue to form a breast mound. If this sounds more appealing to you, the next choice is what kind of flap procedure would you choose, depending on which part of the body the tissue is taken from such as buttocks, belly or upper back.Whether to undergo nipple reconstruction is another decision as it can lessen the obvious breast differences and increase symmetry, especially smaller breasted women.

Surgery: Who and Where?

But immediate breast reconstruction is not a single-surgeon operation in the U.S. The surgeon who removes the cancer is a general surgeon doing the mastectomy or lumpectomy. The plastic surgeon responsible for the reconstruction is referred to as a reconstructive surgeon. So you have to coordinate these. Your breast surgeon or oncologist could recommend the surgeon who has done breast reconstruction. Most plastic surgeons can perform breast reconstructions, but not everyone prefers to perform a lot of these surgeries. Ask the plastic surgeon about the most common procedures performed, the experience and whether all reconstructive options are available.

Having your treatment center far away from you place of residence is an hinderance to breast reconstruction after under going the mastectomy, as per a 2011 study. During 1998-2011, researchers found an increase in the rates of immediate breast reconstruction post mastectomy, from about 11% to more than 32% of procedures. According to the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998, your insurance covers both mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Discuss with Your Peers

“For me, at 27-28 age, surgeries under the knife, were very overwhelming” says a patient who wishes to stay anonymous.  But while under treatment, she had no feedback from other young women who were faced with this decision but received encouragement from older women who helped her through choices. It’s about reaching out to other women who have been in this situation with the surgery. She recommends connecting with other women and finding resources and information through support groups.

At 34, she is doing well although there is scarring across her breasts, her body feels good. She ran into a few unexpected limitations feeling uncomfortable doing pushups but has found a way to work around them, such as AnaOno designs, a lingerie line which caters to the needs of breast cancer survivors. She recently hit her five-year mark following cancer treatment and is keeping her fingers crossed for positive results. Prayers and good vibes, she says.

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