Candidate for Immediate Reconstruction
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Mastectomy is a word that you hope you never have to hear. Unfortunately, it is a reality that far too many women face. A breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent mastectomy affect a woman’s physical and emotional well-being. And while cancer treatments and surgery can help with the physical aspects, many women are left with the emotional trauma of having to see themselves without their breasts. Breast reconstruction is performed so that no woman has to deal with this reality. Breast reconstruction uses the flap method, where tissue is taken from another part of your body and molded to create a new breast, or tissue expanders and implants, which is very similar to breast augmentation. The doctor will discuss the pros and cons of each option at the time of your consultation.
Just as there are two options for reconstruction techniques, there are also two different timeframes for your reconstruction: delayed or immediate. Delayed breast reconstruction occurs sometime after your mastectomy. Immediate reconstruction is performed at the same time as your mastectomy. Although there are benefits to both timeframes, many women are interested in immediate reconstruction because, with this option, they do not have to see themselves without their breasts for an extended period. If you have recently discovered that a mastectomy is in your future and you are interested in immediate reconstruction, some prerequisites must be met.
What Are the Benefits of Immediate Reconstruction?
Immediate reconstruction offers many benefits. Not only does it limit the emotional insecurities of losing your breasts, but it also allows for a better aesthetic appearance. When reconstruction is performed after your mastectomy has healed and scarring has occurred, it can be more challenging to achieve the same level of cosmetic results. Also, immediate reconstruction removes the need for an additional day of surgery and anesthesia. Combining the two procedures allows you to reduce your overall recovery period and is often more cost-effective because you are already in surgery and under anesthesia.
What Are the Benefits of Delayed Reconstruction?
While many women find immediate reconstruction to be more advantageous, delayed reconstruction is not without its benefits. Delayed reconstruction is performed months or years after the initial surgery. This delay will allow you plenty of time to heal, recover, and improve your physical and emotional health before choosing the type of reconstruction you want. The main benefit of delayed reconstruction is, however, that it does not interfere with post-mastectomy cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. For women who have their surgery before radiation treatment, delayed reconstruction is often preferable, as radiation can affect your results and healing.
Are You A Candidate?
The only way to know if you are a candidate for immediate reconstruction is to talk with your oncologist, your mastectomy surgeon, and your plastic surgeon to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Additional cancer treatments, the stage your cancer is in, your current medical condition, and your lifestyle will all factor into which time frame is best for you.