Choose the Right Time for Your Breast Reconstruction

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Breast reconstruction is a plastic surgery procedure that means rebuilding of a breast. Usually it is performed in women who have lost their breast(s) due to breast cancer; a condition known as mastectomy.

Techniques used for breast reconstruction

Following are some usually used techniques for breast reconstruction:

Breast implants: this is the most common techniques used for rebuilding of breasts. The surgeon puts a silastic implant in the chest of the patient, a saline solution is injected and after some time the implant is replaced with a permanent implant. 

Flap reconstruction: it is the second most common procedure and uses tissues from the patient’s own body such as from the back, thighs, buttocks or abdomen. The donor tissues may have its blood supply from the old site or from the new site.  

Your surgeon is the right person to decide which type suits you the best.

Aim of the plastic surgeon

Plastic surgeons aim to give you a breast similar to your natural breast. They work their best to ensure the best results but you must understand that no procedure in the world can give you breasts exactly identical to natural breasts. You may need to undergo another surgery to create nipple and aerola or to make your other breast similar to the constructed breast.   

The right time to have breast reconstruction

You can have breast reconstruction surgery at the time of mastectomy (removal of breast) or some time later. You can discuss it with your surgeon that which time you think is suitable to you. The surgeon will help you in making a decision by taking into account the type and stage of breast cancer, other treatments (if any) that you need and your preferences. 

Benefits of immediate reconstruction

  • An immediate reconstruction helps you in coping with the stress that you would have felt after losing a breast. 
  • The new breast will be different from the old one but you will feel good on seeing a new breast when you wake up after mastectomy. 
  • It means you will not have to undergo another surgery for breast reconstruction; fewer surgeries mean less anesthetics.
  • You will have less scarring on the new breast. 

Drawbacks of immediate reconstruction

  • You may have less time to decide which type of reconstruction you want to have. 
  • Having radiotherapy after the surgery may damage the reconstructed breast.
  • Any complicated surgery may result in a delayed chemotherapy. Because chemotherapy affects body’s healing ability so chemotherapy right after the breast reconstruction means your wounds will not heal and you may develop a serious infection. 

Benefits of delayed reconstruction

  • You will have more time to think about the options and discuss with your surgeon all the possible alternatives and outcomes.
  • Breast cancer treatment will go through its regular path. You will not need to delay any treatment like chemotherapy for the sake of reconstruction.

Draw backs of a delayed reconstruction

  • You may have a larger scar on the new breast.
  • You may have to deal with depression caused due to the loss of breast. 

Your surgeon is the right person to guide you which option is better for you. 

Finding a good surgeon

Breast reconstruction is a complex surgery so you must find a qualified and an experienced plastic surgeon. Board certified surgeons are the best practitioners so you should try to avail their services. Breast cancer specialists that are specialized in reconstruction field are called oncoplastic surgeons. Talk to your breast cancer consultant about the reconstruction surgery. Decide which type of surgery you want and go for the specialist of that field.

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