Thinking about breast reconstruction is often very challenging for women who are already dealing with the uncertainty of cancer diagnosis and treatment. But with the right planning and expectations, reconstruction can be one of the more positive aspects of a breast cancer treatment plan.
A positive breast reconstruction experience begins with the right surgeon. Your cancer doctor may refer you to one or more reconstructive surgeons, and you are free to do your own research as well. Reconstructive breast surgery is often a technically complex surgery, as there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to ensure optimum results. Finding a plastic surgeon with the skill set to match is a must.
The changes that occur in the breast due to cancer treatments, including the development of scar tissue, combine to make reconstructive breast surgery a significant challenge. For this reason, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations about the outcome of your reconstruction. For example, in most cases there will be some noticeable cosmetic differences between the breasts. Significant improvement in appearance and self-confidence is the goal of reconstruction, not perfection.
I often work with cancer surgeons to combine the oncology surgery with immediate breast reconstruction. This combined surgical approach removes the cancerous tissue while taking steps to rebuild the breast at the same time. Patients also benefit from a shorter recovery period as well as having a single procedure rather than several staged procedures.
By considering their reconstructive options carefully, many women can achieve a satisfying breast reconstruction outcome that helps them move on from their cancer diagnosis.