Removal of cancer within the breast tissue, achieved with mastectomy or lumpectomy is a necessary, often life-saving procedure. Breast reconstruction is more or less an aesthetic procedure that has many benefits but also some drawbacks. We are here to help you made an informed decision.
Reconstruction of the breast lost to cancer restores the body image and femininity. It eases the process of recovery which positively affects the patient’s sense of well-being and improves the quality of life.
Every case of breast reconstruction is unique, and not every patient can have the same result as the next one. Knowing what to expect is very important when deciding whether to go through the process of reconstruction or not. In order to have realistic expectations, we suggest the patients obtain the correct information from:
- relevant websites with before and after picture galleries
- patient's support groups
- experienced breast cancer and plastic surgeons
Afterward, it will be much easier for you to answer the above question?
Other things to consider in the decision-making process:
- Overall health: it is critical that a patient undergoing breast reconstruction is healthy enough to go safely through surgery and recovery period. Reconstructions requiring shorter operative times are chosen for patients with more background medical issues.
- Smoking: nicotine constricts blood vessels thus less blood reaches the remaining breast skin and transferred tissues. Smoking, therefore, leads to higher rates of wound healing problems and infections whether you reconstructed with an implant or your own tissue.
- Body mass index (BMI): is a measurement relating your weight to your height. In general patients with a normal BMI (18,5-25) have better aesthetic results compared to patients that are too thin or overweight. Additionally, a BMI over 30 can be associated with an increased risk of wound healing problems, tissue necrosis, infection, venous thrombosis and persistence of extra fat and skin in the armpits and flanks.
-Previous surgery: For example, a prior tummy tuck or liposuction of the abdomen prevents us from reconstructing your breasts with an abdominally based flap.
- Breast cancer treatment: The treatment of your breast cancer is always the priority, and reconstruction is only performed when it will not affect your breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer treatment may include a mastectomy or a lumpectomy (partial mastectomy), axillary lymph node dissection, chemotherapy before or after surgery, and radiation after surgery. All of these therapies, when considered in conjunction with the other factors discussed here, can affect what type of reconstruction you can have when you can have it, and also impacts the final result.
- Complications: Even though the rate of complication in appropriately selected patients is low you must be aware that breast reconstruction is complex and can be affected by infections, wound healing problems, loss of the tissues or implant used to perform your reconstruction, additional breast cancer therapy or other setbacks. These factors can delay reconstruction and alter how your breast will look like after the reconstruction is complete.
Despite all limitations, most women who undergo breast reconstruction will benefit from it immensely. These include the practical, aesthetic, physical aspects as well as feelings of regained wholeness which affects the woman psychologically.