Each year more than 254,000 American women face breast cancer. Today, the emotional and physical results are very different from what they were in the past. Much more is now known about breast cancer and its treatment. New kinds of treatment as well as improved reconstructive surgery mean that women who have breast cancer today have better choices.
Today, more women with breast cancer choose surgery that removes only part of the breast tissue. This may be called breast conservation surgery, lumpectomy, or segmental mastectomy. But some women have a mastectomy, which means the entire breast is removed. Many women who have a mastectomy choose reconstructive surgery to rebuild the shape and look of the breast.
If you are thinking about having reconstructive surgery, it is a good idea to talk about it with your surgeon and a plastic surgeon experienced in breast reconstruction before your mastectomy. This lets the surgical teams plan the treatment that is best for you, even if you want to wait and have reconstructive surgery later.
Why have breast reconstruction?
Women choose breast reconstruction for many reasons:
You will be able to see the difference between the reconstructed breast and the remaining breast when you are nude. But when you are wearing a bra, the breasts should be alike enough in size and shape that you will feel comfortable about how you look in most types of clothes.
Your body image and self-esteem may improve after your reconstruction surgery, but this is not always the case. Breast reconstruction does not fix things you were unhappy about before your surgery. Also, you may not be happy with how your breast looks and feels after surgery. You and those close to you must know the facts about what to expect from reconstruction.
There are often many options to think about as you and your doctors talk about what is best for you, from type of reconstruction to the new field of Oncoplasty. The reconstruction process often means one or more operations. Talk about the benefits and risks of reconstruction with your doctors before the surgery is planned. Give yourself plenty of time to make the best decision for you. You should decide to have breast reconstruction only after you are fully informed.