Breast reconstruction has helped numerous women feel “whole” again after a mastectomy on one or both breasts. When breast cancer causes a woman to undergo a mastectomy, she may feel less “like a woman” and/or experience a reduction in self-confidence. However, studies have shown that women who undergo breast reconstruction immediately after losing their breasts benefit psychologically. Breast reconstruction can give back what was taken. Other patients decide to wait months, or even years after a mastectomy, which is referred to as delayed reconstruction. Nevertheless, there are various types of breast reconstruction procedures that can be performed after breast cancer treatment.
Breast reconstruction is performed using implants, the patient’s own tissue or a combination of both. Nipple and areola reconstruction is often necessary if the nipple region cannot be spared during the mastectomy. However, nipple reconstruction is usually delayed until the breast tissue has healed from reconstruction surgery.
It is important for patients to learn about each procedure, as well as any risks, so they can choose the best option. There are additional risks for implants and either method can be altered with weight fluctuation or the natural signs of aging. However, the flap method allows the breast to age more naturally.
Breast reconstruction can improve the shape and size of the breast but it is important to understand that the new breast will never have the same sensations as the natural breast. Furthermore, there will be visible scars from either the mastectomy or the breast reconstruction surgery. The flap procedure will also leave scars on the donor site. However, the surgeon will always try to hide the scars within the natural creases of the body or below the bikini line whenever possible.