Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the office of Jim Brantner, MD would like to answer your questions about breast cancer reconstruction.
- Should I Have Reconstructive Surgery?
- Mastectomy due to cancer is an intimate and painful topic, and no two patients are alike. Many women do find that reconstructive surgery helps them to feel more like themselves again. Others choose not to experience more surgeries and hospital time. Speak with your doctors, care team, and close companions, but remember that ultimately the choice lies with you.
- What are my Options?
- There are two options for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy: artificial breast implants, or tissue flap reconstruction. Breast implants after a mastectomy are quite similar to a standard breast implant, in that an artificial saline or silicone implant is used. In tissue flap reconstruction, tissue from your body (usually the abdomen or back) is used in the same manner. Neither option is one-size-fits-all, and both create natural-looking results. Discuss them with your surgeon to determine which is right for you.
- When Should I Have Surgery?
- You have several options when it comes to the timing of your breast reconstruction. Some women choose to have removal and reconstruction at the same time, which has the advantage of significantly lessening overall recovery time. Some women choose to delay their reconstruction surgery. This is often due to further treatment needs, such as targeted radiation and chemotherapy. It’s not uncommon for doctors to recommend a waiting period of six months to a year after completing treatment. Some women also choose staged reconstruction, where part of the reconstruction is done at removal and the rest after treatment.
Again, a long discussion with your entire care team is the best way to determine which breast reconstruction option is right for you. There is no rule that patients should have reconstruction immediately–many patients wait months, years, or never choose to have the procedure at all.
When you’re ready to begin the consultation process, contact Dr. Brantner’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery office in East Tennessee for professional, informed, compassionate care.