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For many women, breast reconstruction can be done in the same operation following the mastectomy procedure. The advantages of this method are obvious. Want some mind-settling advice on breast cancer reconstruction: you will avoid having another surgery, you only have to recover from one painful procedure instead of two, and you will not have to wake up after surgery with a void in your chest where your breast used to be.
Some women who have had breast reconstruction after a mastectomy choose to separate the two procedures. They may prefer to focus entirely on beating cancer before worrying about their appearance, or they may also feel they need time to decide if reconstruction is right for them. If you are considering breast reconstruction, remember that you have time to make decisions and think it over. It is not a decision to rush into. You can always come back for the procedure once your mastectomy has healed. So take the time you need to make the choice that is best for you.
A mastectomy is no small matter. The surgical removal of a breast is not only frightening, but it can bring about feelings of anger, frustration, dismay, and loss for the woman who undergoes this procedure. Women may no longer find themselves attractive once the procedure is done. Clothes might not fit the same as before, and the shock of waking up "breast-less" after surgery can be even more heartbreaking than the breast cancer diagnosis itself.
Fortunately, women who undergo mastectomy for breast cancer can have breast reconstruction surgery. The procedure involves inserting either an artificial breast implant, or an implant of tissue and muscle harvested from another area of your body. If you have had or are facing a mastectomy, get advice on breast cancer reconstruction and keep it in mind as a solution if you are concerned over the loss of a breast.
Typically, breast reconstruction therapy falls under the reign of a plastic surgeon's expertise. If you are having the surgery after you have recovered from a previous mastectomy, you will need to research plastic surgeons and find one with whom you are comfortable. It is also recommended that you find a surgeon who has experience with breast surgery on post-mastectomy women. Get all the advice on breast cancer reconstruction that you can find.
Your needs may be different than those of a woman who has never had a mastectomy. It is also important to find a doctor who will paint a realistic picture of what your breasts will be like after the surgery. Breast cancer reconstruction does not always result in "centerfold-style" breasts, and a good doctor probably would not make such a promise. If you are having reconstruction done at the same time as your mastectomy, your considerations may be slightly different. Talk to your primary care physician about what might be the best options for you, and to recommend surgeons that might fit your needs.
If you are worried that breast reconstruction will bring back cancer, you can rest at ease. Researchers have found nothing to indicate that breast reconstruction increases the risk of future breast cancer, or even that it will prevent the detection of future cancer that arises in your breast. Though a breast implant may change the dynamics of breast self-exams and mammograms in the future, both can still be done successfully.
While breast cancer reconstruction has many implications and things to consider, these particular risks need not be among them.
The possibility of having breasts again after a mastectomy is certainly appealing, but it is not the right choice for every women. For one thing, breast reconstruction could interfere with certain treatments for breast cancer, such as radiation therapy. There are also risks associated with any surgery.
Some women, following a mastectomy, do not wish to have further surgeries because of the risks and recovery time involved, and, breast reconstruction may not have the outcome you are hoping for.
If you are considering breast cancer reconstruction, carefully discuss the procedure, the risks, and reasonable expectations for the outcome with your doctor, and also with the people closest to you. Think about the pros and cons of the surgery before making a rash decision. In the end it comes down to what is best for you, emotionally and physically.
Thanks to the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA), passed in 1998, your insurance provider is required to cover breast reconstruction surgery if it also covered the cost of your mastectomy. Breast prostheses will also be covered, as may surgery to the unaffected breast to help make both breasts more symmetrical. But a delay in the decision to have breast reconstruction might absolve your insurance company of this obligation.
To make sure that all options will still be available to you and covered by your insurance, find out just what your insurance company's policies are, and factor this into your decisions about breast reconstruction.
Rare is the reconstructed breast that looks, feels and behaves exactly like the original. When naked, be prepared to notice a difference in the way your breasts look. They may not be exactly the same size or shape, for example. And a reconstructed breast rarely has the same sensation to touch as the original. If your goal for reconstruction is to be able to wear bras and clothing without too noticeable a difference in your breasts, then you have realistic expectations for the surgery.
Before jumping into reconstruction surgery, it is in your best interest to have realistic expectations. To benefit the most from breast reconstruction, have a frank discussion with your doctor about what is involved and what you can expect, and make your decision to have the surgery accordingly. Make sure that you have all of the facts and that you have a pretty solid idea of what the outcome will be.
Surgery is not the only way to have normal looking breasts after mastectomy. There are also prosthetic breasts in a variety of types to suit the needs of different women. Some attach right to the skin of the chest to be worn under the bra. Others can be inserted into special bras made for the purpose. The entire breast can be simulated in this way, or if only a portion of your breast was removed, you may be able to get a prosthesis to accommodate for the missing portion.
If surgery and implants are not right for you, talk to your doctor about the options that may be available in breast prosthetics.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|