Most women prefer to have a breast implant but in some cases, this is difficult and the only option is breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction is both physically and mentally challenging to a woman who has just lost her one or both breast to cancer.
The thought of having a breast reconstructed is not easy for many women. The surgery can be complex, time consuming and requires a long recovery period.
However, once the procedure is done, it can boost one's self confidence, relieve the anxiety of losing a breast and improves self image.
No matter how good the surgeon, the reconstructed breast will never appear physically similar to the original breast. Even the texture, contour and feel of the reconstructed breast is different.
Breast reconstruction is not for all women and one has to have realistic expectations.
Even though the reconstructed breast fills the void in the empty chest, it is far from ideal. All women should seriously think about the procedure, discuss with other women who have undergone the procedure and understand the procedure.
Breast reconstruction is a good option for you if:
- have had a mastectomy and are now willing to restore the breast
- your health is good
- you do not smoke
- you are realistic and have a positive outlook towards life
- you fully understand the procedure, it side effects and possible complications
Breast reconstruction can be performed at two different time periods. It can:
- be performed right after the mastectomy during the same anesthesia
- Be delayed and performed once the mastectomy incision has completely healed and you have completed all your other cancer treatments
During your initial consultation with the surgeon, you should discuss the following:
- safety of the procedure
- where it will be performed ? i.e. a hospital or an outpatient surgery center
- what type of anesthesia will you receive and who will administer it
- what are other options available to you
- will previous surgery affect the reconstruction
- possible side effects and complications
- when should you stop smoking
- what medications can you continue during surgery
- when should you stop any blood thinners
- what will the recovery be like and how long will it take to fully get back to normal
Before the procedure, the surgeon will:
- perform a physical exam
- examine your breast and analyze the size, shape, symmetry and skin texture
- obtain photos for comparison after the procedure
Prior to the actual breast reconstruction, you will be required to:
- stop smoking
- stop your blood thinners
- get blood work
- obtain a chest x ray and a ECG
All individuals who have a breast recoinstruction as an outpatient need to be driven home by someone.