Mastectomy reconstruction can be performed as a component of the original procedure used to remove the breast or at almost any time in the future. Both types of procedure have possible benefits, indications and contraindications, which depend on the individual aspects of each woman’s condition.
Regardless of when it is performed, breast reconstruction, following radical mastectomy, is a vital part of the recovery effort for most women who have survived breast cancer and look forward to a bright new future.
Immediate Mastectomy Reconstruction
Some breast reconstruction procedures are performed as part of the mastectomy process. This way, the patient never actually sees herself without the lost breast. She will awake from surgery with pain and suffering, but also anatomically complete, or at least on her way to that goal.
This experience might save some women the pain of experiencing the sight of their mastectomy defect, which can be a very traumatic event.
This type of reconstruction is especially useful for women who are undergoing mastectomy for a non-cancerous condition, such as severe breast hypertrophy. It is also a good option for women who will not need to endure significant postoperative breast cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, at the surgery site.
It should be known that even immediate reconstruction is not usually finished in one operation. Procedures which utilize breast implants might necessitate placement of a tissue expander first, followed by a permanent implant at a later date.
In addition, the nipple and areola reconstruction is likely to be performed in a separate procedure, after full healing has been achieved.
Delayed Breast Reconstruction
Delaying breast reconstruction is a good choice for women who need to undergo significant post-surgical treatments with radiation or chemotherapy, since these might damage the delicate new breast tissue.
Delayed reconstruction is also advised for women who will benefit cosmetically from allowing the primary operation to heal, before undertaking reconstruction efforts. This is especially true for women who must endure a large amount of tissue removal during the mastectomy.
Although the patient must experience their altered body post surgery, they might be even happier with their reconstruction, once it is accomplished. After all, women who experience immediate reconstruction often compare their final appearance to the last memory of their old natural breast prior to the mastectomy. Women who have a delayed reconstruction compare their final results against the complete absence of a breast which they must endure in between the mastectomy and the reconstruction.
It is obvious to see how the delayed reconstruction patient might see the noticeable improvement offered by the reconstruction, when contrasted against to the patient who compares her reconstructed breast to her pre-mastectomy anatomy.
Mastectomy Reconstruction Advice
Choosing how to rebuild the breast is best completed as a combined effort on the part of the patient and her doctor. Choosing the right procedure and timeline for the reconstruction will definitely have a huge effect on the final surgical results.
Take time to plan your procedure and ask for help from your plastic surgeon. There are many resources available to assist you in all the decisions which must be made prior to surgery.
Rebuilding your breast is an important step in moving on with your life. The symbolic renewal of the breast certainly compares to the actual rebirth of the human feminine identity that is reborn through the breast reconstruction process.
You have survived your most difficult test. Now, it is time to correct the damage caused to your body and go about the considerable task of overcoming the emotional effects of your epic struggle.
A detailed article about the psychological effects of reconstructive surgery can be found in our psychology of breast reconstruction resource.