If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, it is a life-changing experience. Many women have to go through a mastectomy, which means at least part of one breast is removed, but often both breasts are removed. Having cancer affects self-esteem and confidence, and losing breasts is like pouring salt in those wounds. This is why it is so important that women are offered breast reconstruction to help them restore not just their form, but their identity.
Breast Reconstruction Surgery
It is now quite common for breast reconstruction to be offered straight after the mastectomy itself. This is only recommended, however, to do so if the woman does not require radiation therapy to their chest after surgery.
A number of studies have shown that women who have had breast reconstruction have higher levels of self-esteem and confidence. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has shown that many women have even further improved self-esteem and self-image if they also have eyelid surgery, a facelift, and liposuction. They studied 1,214 women who had breast reconstruction, many of which had cosmetic procedures as well. 62% stated that their breast reconstruction made them feel more self-conscious and this encouraged them to further improve their self-image through more surgery. What this showed more than anything, however, was that women had surgery because they wanted to create a better self-image overall.
Techniques Used in Breast Reconstruction
If you are scheduled for a mastectomy and you are considering reconstruction, there are a few things that you have to know about. This is mainly so that you are able to build realistic expectations. Reconstruction can be done using breast implants or, should you so choose, through the DIEP flap, which means your own tissue is used.
Using implants means that no muscle or tissue has to be relocated. Usually, the soft tissue around the chest skin is simply expanded, using prothesis if need be. Once expansion has been achieved, a definitive implant is then inserted. Further surgery can create a new areola and nipple.
Through DIEP, which is Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator), your own tissue will be used, including fats from your tummy area, which then creates a new breast mound. In the past, a TRAM flap procedure would be used, which means that abdominal muscles had to be removed. This would lead to stomach losing its firmness. Through DIEP, there isn’t as much pain or quick, nor are the muscles, which means recovery is quicker. In fact, people can return to strenuous activities after just six weeks.
There are no rights and wrongs in terms of choosing between the two types of reconstruction surgery. Only you can make that decision and it should be based on your personal preferences and on the advice of your surgeon. What matters most is that you feel comfortable with your decision and that you look forward to feeling like yourself again and moving on with your life after breast cancer.