Modern surgical technology makes it possible to reconstruct a natural-looking breast after mastectomy (breast removal) for cancer or other diseases. The procedure is commonly begun and sometimes completed immediately following mastectomy, so the patient wakes with a new breast mound. Alternatively, reconstruction may begin years after mastectomy. There are several ways to reconstruct the breast, both with and without implants; your surgeon(s) should work together with you to decide which is the best option for you.
Breast reconstruction has no effect on the recurrence of cancer or other diseases, chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Post mastectomy reconstruction can take place immediately after the mastectomy or may be delayed to a separate surgery. There are medical reasons to delay the reconstruction. If your breast surgeon recommends the delay, make certain that you understand why a delay is necessary.
As you consider mastectomy as a treatment option, you should be aware of breast reconstruction; a way to re-create the breast’s shape after a natural breast has been removed. This procedure is gaining in popularity, although many women are still unaware of it and many women are not offered reconstruction. Sixty-five percent of women in the United States are not offered reconstruction by their surgeon.
Today, almost any woman who has had a mastectomy can have her breast reconstructed. Successful reconstruction may occur even with radiation-damaged skin, thin skin or the absence of chest wall muscles. The options for immediate reconstruction after mastectomy will be discussed with your surgeon and again when you consult with a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
Reconstruction may not be right for you.
After mastectomy, some women may prefer to wear an artificial breast form or prostheses inside their surgical bras. Certified prosthetic fitters can assist any woman who does not desire reconstruction and prefers to wear a prosthesis. Both a breast / general surgeon and a plastic surgeon may help you decide whether to have breast reconstruction.
You should discuss breast reconstruction before your surgery because the incision choice may affect the reconstruction procedure. A skin-sparing mastectomy can greatly enhance the final reconstruction results and should also be discussed with your surgeon prior to the operation.
Having breast reconstruction at the time of your cancer surgery can lead to better cosmetic results, decreased risks from additional anesthesia and offer you added psychological benefits. These benefits can result from immediate reconstruction, without compromising the curative aspects of your cancer operation.
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