Breast Reconstruction After A Mastectomy – What Exactly Are Your Options?

If you’ve had a mastectomy, you will need to decide whether you want to have reconstruction surgery. Some women choose not to and have use a prosthesis instead, it’s up the individual and the decision will often be based on what time of life the woman is at.
Many women decide to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy for many different reasons. A breast reconstruction can go a long way in helping your emotional recovery after suffering from breast cancer. Many women feel that reconstruction will make them feel more feminine and these feelings should not be underestimated.
The surgery itself is about recreating a breast mound to match the remaining breast as closely as possible. Some women will decide to have surgery on both breasts if there are issues about a good match. In some instances a double mastectomy will need to be performed and two reconstructed breasts made.
The Surgery
There are different methods used for breast reconstruction and of course your doctor will talk to you about the best method for you. This will often depend on what treatments you are undergoing and the stage of your breast cancer. The two main types of reconstruction are implants and using your own live tissue.
? Implants – Implants are placed under the chest muscle and they are usually expandable and the skin can be stretched gradually. This method is more suited for smaller breasted women.
? Using your own tissue – a breast can be reconstructed using your own tissue from areas of your body such as your abdomen and back. This method is more suited for women with larger breasts and for those who have damaged skin from radiotherapy.
Some women choose not to have a nipple reconstruction, however this can done by taking part of the nipple from your remaining breast to attach to the new breast and tattooing the colour onto your skin. This is usually done a few months after the breast reconstruction to allow your new breast time to settle into a position.
When should you have your breast reconstruction surgery?
This will depend on your unique set of circumstances. The reconstruction surgery can either be performed at the same time as your mastectomy or you can choose to have a delayed reconstruction. However in some cases you will have to have a delayed surgery if you require radiotheraphy after your mastectomy operation.
If you are able to make the choice to have either delayed or immediate reconstruction, you will need to look into the benefits and disadvantages of each method. Talk this through with your doctor and if possible talk to someone who has had each operation. If you can’t do this, look online for real life stories.
If you choose to have an immediate reconstruction surgery there are many benefits including; one anaesthetic and hospitalisation, one recovery period, easier emotional recovery, possibility of a better result and less scarring.
If you choose to have a delayed reconstruction surgery, you will have more time to think about your decision, the surgery will be less complex and if you require treatments after your mastectomy these won’t be affected by a reconstruction. The operation will also take less time, ensuring a shorter recovery period.
The delayed reconstruction method may be difficult to deal with emotionally as you will be left without a breast for a period of time, so you will need to take this into consideration.
Most women find they are happy with the results of their operation and it helps them to recover emotionally from such a draining disease such as breast cancer.

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