Regaining What You Lost: Breast Reconstruction After Cancer
Many women who have breast cancer or have a strong family history of the disease choose to have a mastectomy. This decision is a brave one, and while it may seem like an easy choice when faced with the risk of breast cancer, it can leave women feeling sad or mourning what may feel like a loss of femininity.
Depending on the situation, breast reconstruction may be an available option after treatment has been completed. Breast reconstruction is a form of plastic surgery that rebuilds the breast as closely as possible to the same size and shape it was before it was removed. While the option to undergo this surgery is completely the choice of the patient, it has helped many women feel more comfortable with their appearance.
There are a few different options for breast reconstruction: breast implants, natural tissue flaps, or a combination of the two. Breast implants are filled with silicone or saline, while natural tissue flaps use skin fat and muscle from your body. No one method is better than another, and your body shape might impact with option you choose. Your plastic surgeon can go over the pros and cons of each method and help you determine which choice to make.
Once the surgery is complete, it is common to experience fatigue and soreness. It will be important to avoid overhead lifting, strenuous sports, and sexual activity for four to six weeks after the surgery is complete. Bruising and swelling may be seen for up to eight weeks and scarring will improve over time.
Many women feel depressed or anxious after surgery, sometimes due in part to the fact that the reconstructed breast may look or feel less natural. Speaking with a counselor or other women who have experienced breast reconstruction can be extremely therapeutic. The Women Helping Other Women Breast Cancer Support Group is held at 7 p.m. on every second Tuesday of the month at Baptist Women’s Health Center.