For many women the loss of a breast due to breast cancer fuels a lot of emotion. Some women feel less attractive or like their femininity has been stripped away. Looking in the mirror can be a painful experience as your silhouette no longer looks like the one you remember. Breast cancer isn’t just a physical fight for its survivors, but an emotional one too as women struggle each day to embrace the changes they have gone through, to endure treatments and therapies, and to adjust to their changing lives.
While breast reconstruction isn’t the right choice for all women, for some it is an important part of the healing process. Whether the reconstruction is performed at the same as the cancer removal or at a later date, reconstruction can help some women to feel more at home in their bodies as they fight to regain what cancer has taken away. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, let’s explore some of the breast reconstruction options available to a woman after mastectomy.
Breast Reconstruction- More Options than Ever
Over the past couple of decades the plastic surgery field has experienced an influx of new technologies and techniques giving surgeons more options than ever for breast reconstruction. If you’ve had a breast removed or have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, talk with a plastic surgeon about your options. Reconstruction might not be the option you choose, but a plastic surgeon can give you all of the information you need to make an informed choice. Ask questions. Find out your options. Then make the decision that will work best for you.
Different Techniques for Different Women
Like all plastic surgery and reconstructive procedures, breast reconstruction requires a highly individualized approach. No two women are exactly alike. The type of cancer you have, the amount of breast tissue being removed, the size of your breasts, your hormone receptor status, and many other factors play into determining the type of reconstruction that will work best with your situation.
Dr. Lewis likes to meet with each potential breast reconstruction patient in person, often at least twice before surgery. He’ll discuss your needs, wants, and desires along with the options that are available to you. Breast reconstruction is a highly complex topic and we can only share a sliver of information here. Meeting with Dr. Lewis enables us to start a dialogue with our patients where we ask each other questions and create a plan for your personalized care. We understand that this can be a trying and emotional decision and will work with you throughout the process from consultation to surgery to recovery and beyond. Reconstruction isn’t a quick process and multiple surgeries are typically needed to achieve the best results. It is important to choose a surgeon that you are comfortable with.
Let’s take a look at a few of your options for breast reconstruction:
- Breast Implants- In the U.S. 80-90% of breast reconstructions are done with implants. These implants are typically silicone which gives a natural look and feel to the reconstructed breast. Since breast tissue and skin are removed during cancer removal surgery a tissue expander is often needed to stretch the skin and muscle to accommodate an implant.
- Flap Reconstruction– For women that want breast reconstruction without implants a flap reconstruction may be the ideal choice. This procedure uses your own tissue to rebuild the breast. Tissue flaps are typically taken from the skin and fat of the lower abdomen or less frequently from the back. In some cases the flap method is combined with an implant to achieve the desired breast size. This procedure does require a longer hospital stay and recovery period, but can be a good choice for women looking to avoid artificial implants.
If you’ve lost a breast due to a mastectomy, you do have options. Schedule an appointment with us today to talk with Dr. Lewis about your unique situation and options.