None of us want to hear the words, "You have breast cancer."
It is important to look around and be surrounded by family and friends—and a medical team that will support you every step of the way—from diagnosis to recovery.
As board certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Stacey and Dr. Kelamis are here to discuss your breast reconstruction options. Although the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) became federal law on October 21, 1998, with the goal of protecting women with breast cancer that choose to undergo breast reconstruction, less than 23% of women know the options available for breast reconstruction. That doesn't mean that you have to choose breast reconstruction, but you should know your options. Remember, you are in control!
The advantages of having breast reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy include the potential of having more breast tissue to support reconstruction because there is no surgical scarring or radiation damage in the area unless radiation was given before surgery. Undergoing immediate reconstruction may mean less surgery and ability to recover from the mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time. Additionally, changes to your physical appearance are not as dramatic if the breast is reconstructed during the mastectomy.
An advantage of delaying breast reconstruction is that it gives you the chance to focus on your cancer treatment. It also provides time to research reconstructive options. The disadvantage is living without breasts in the short term. During this time, you should ask about the possibility of obtaining prosthetics.
Reconstruction with implants
One type of breast reconstruction uses breast implants to reshape your breasts. Implant procedures can be divided into two types, direct to implant or tissue expander to implant. Also, you should feel free to ask Dr. Stacey or Dr. Kelamis about any concerns you have about implants.
Reconstruction with a flap
Flap reconstruction uses tissue from your abdomen, back, thighs or buttocks to rebuild the breast. This results in two scars, one at the breast and the other where the tissue was removed. Flaps are often used by themselves to reconstruct the breast, but sometimes they may require a breast implant to achieve the desired shape or size.
Choosing not to have reconstruction
You also have the option to forego reconstruction altogether. You may choose this for your own personal reasons, whether it is to get back to your life faster or because you feel it would be easier to live your life without breasts. Some women choose not to have a reconstruction, which is fine. There is no wrong decision. Remember that you are in control and it is ultimately your decision whether you want a reconstruction.
If you or a friend or family member are searching for a board certified plastic surgeon to help you understand these options, know that we are here for you!
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source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons