Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, in fact, 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer at one point in their lives. While breast cancer surgery is known to highly increase a patient’s survival rate for breast cancer, there are drastic side effects to surgery. A mastectomy means complete loss of breast tissue, while procedures that only take out cancerous tissue like a lumpectomy can still drastically affect how the breast will look. However, breast reconstruction and plastic surgeons have done amazing things in terms of restoring cancer survivor’s femininity and confidence. Thanks to advancement in the field of plastic surgery, a breast cancer survivor actually has many options when it comes to restoring their breasts.
Things to Think About:
Before diving into the different options available for breast reconstruction, it’s important to consider a few things.
- The stage of your breast cancer
- Whether you want immediate breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery or long after
- The type of breast cancer surgery you’ve had
- The severity and size of the breast cancer surgery
- The amount of skin and breast tissue available for the reconstruction
- Additional cancer treatments you may receive
Sometimes breast cancer surgery will create asymmetry for the breasts because one breast might need an operation but the other one is left untouched. Fortunately, there are possibilities for breast reconstruction to “even out” the breasts in terms of projection and symmetry. If needed, the other unoperated breast can be given a lift or implants to make sure they’re balanced and natural-looking.
Option 1: Breast Reconstruction with Implants
Implants are essentially flexible bags that can be inserted into the breasts to create an increase in volume. Women with smaller to medium sized breasts are better candidates for breast reconstruction with implants. In some breast reconstruction procedures with implants, an expander is first placed in the breasts for a while to create some space, then the implant is eventually exchanged for the expander in another procedure.
Option 2: Breast Reconstruction with your own tissue
It’s an incredibly advanced and remarkable procedure; doctors now have the ability to re-create a breast using a combination of skin, fat, and muscle from other parts of the body. This is called autologous reconstruction, and women tend to like this procedure because it uses their own tissue and the breasts feel more natural to the touch.
Option 3: Breast Reconstruction with Implants and Tissue
This is a good option for women with larger breasts; it may be that a patient doesn’t have enough donor tissue to recreate a larger breast, so implants are also used to create that little extra volume. Many women also like the dramatic changes to the breast shape that implants can provide.