Breast cancer can be challenging enough without the added fear and uncertainty that surrounds possibly losing one or both breasts following a mastectomy. Even for patients who choose to undergo a lumpectomy and/or radiation treatments in place of a mastectomy, there can still be changes that negatively affect the shape or size of the treated breasts. Thankfully breast reconstruction surgery offers more options than ever to help women rebuild their breasts and begin their new life following breast cancer surgery. Since I firmly believe that patient education is an integral step when contemplating any plastic surgery, I’m happy to provide some facts on breast reconstruction to help patients become more knowledgeable about this potentially life-changing procedure.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recently released data that concluded that the number of breast reconstruction procedures performed annually has been steadily rising for years. Over 109,000 breast reconstruction surgeries were performed in the in the US last year; a 3% increase from 2015 and a 39% increase since the year 2000.
Fact #2: Breast Reconstruction Does Not End Your Risk of Recurrence
Even for patients who undergo a breast reconstruction following a mastectomy, regular breast cancer screening is still required. In addition to regular, traditional screenings with your doctor, I highly recommend monthly breast self-exams as well. Breast self-exams can be a great way to detect a recurrence of breast cancer early, when it is more treatable.
Fact #3: The Timing of Breast Reconstruction may Depend on Your Specific Breast Cancer
There are a number of breast reconstruction choices to consider including when to have your procedure performed. Breast reconstruction can either be performed in the same surgery as a patient’s mastectomy (known as immediate reconstruction) or some time down the road after they have fully healed from their mastectomy and breast cancer treatments (known as delayed reconstruction). This may depend on a number of factors including whether the patient has what is known as inflammatory breast cancer or if she has undergone radiation treatment, both of which can affect the timing of the breast reconstruction procedure.
Fact #4: Breast Reconstruction isn’t Mandatory Following a Mastectomy
Though many women prefer to undergo breast reconstruction to help feel whole again following their breast cancer surgery, this is not a physical requirement. Moving on without their affected breast or breasts, known as “going flat”, is a perfectly reasonable choice as well. There is not a right or wrong choice; it’s purely a matter of personal and aesthetic preference.
I hope this was helpful. Breast reconstruction is a major decision that takes a lot of research, consultation, and thought. Thankfully, you are not alone in this process. During all my breast reconstruction consultations I am happy to share my knowledge and the experience I’ve gained as a board-certified plastic surgeon for over 35 years to help guide my patients through every step of the reconstruction process. To speak more in-depth about your options, please contact me, Dr. Franklyn Elliott, to schedule a plastic surgery consultation today. You can also follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for more plastic surgery information and helpful tips.