Following a breast cancer diagnosis, many women are overwhelmed not only with their cancer treatment options but also the question of whether or not to elect for reconstructive surgery. The sometimes chaotic or hurried nature of this decision-making process may be exacerbated by the need to perform a mastectomy as soon as possible in certain cases of more advanced cancers. How do you decide which approach is best for your physical and emotional needs?
Immediate Reconstruction Alternatives
For some women, the stress of a breast cancer diagnosis can make a quick decision about reconstructive options feel almost insurmountable. Immediate reconstruction may complicate matters down the line in some cases (particularly if radiation is required), while delayed reconstruction may afford you more time to survey the breast reconstruction options available for your particular case so that you can focus on your health first and foremost. Forgoing or delaying reconstruction may make recovery after mastectomy faster and easier, and there are a variety of external prostheses (breast forms) that can help ease the transition.
Today’s Innovations in Breast Reconstruction
If you do choose immediate or delayed reconstruction, you can feel confident that innovative surgical approaches have improved outcomes. More advanced reconstruction techniques, along with improvements in tissue-based reconstruction and advances in breast implant technology, have allowed more women to achieve a satisfying result following breast reconstruction. Silicone gel and newer form-stable (“gummy bear”) implants don’t require a significant amount of natural breast tissue coverage to conceal their appearance, and they feel very much like natural breast tissue. Additionally, the anatomical shape of gummy bear implants can help lend a more organic profile to the reconstructed breast.
Making the Right Decision for You
Today, women who choose to forgo reconstruction could find the shift to breast-free life to be empowering, driven at least in part by body positive beauty campaigns featuring breast cancer survivors . Regardless of which option you choose, the decision to reconstruct or not following breast cancer is yours and yours alone; be sure to investigate the available options and discuss your decision with your oncologist and reconstructive surgeon.