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Ask Your Questions Early
For many women, hearing that a total mastectomy is necessary is overwhelming. Immediately, women are flooded with options. In many cases, patients will start thinking about breast reconstruction right away. Starting the conversation about surgical options early in a treatment plan can help women feel more at ease. Here are 3 of the most important questions to ask the doctor.
1. What are my options?
After a total mastectomy, patients have a few options for breast reconstruction. Reconstruction is simply a procedure to rebuild the breast. Some women opt to have breasts rebuilt using implants. Others choose an autologous tissue reconstruction, meaning the breast is built from tissue taken from elsewhere in the body. Surgery may be done on one or both breasts, and women may also have nipple or areola reconstruction.
2. When can I have the surgery?
After breast cancer treatment, women may have immediate or delayed surgeries. In some cases, the surgeon may be able to perform both surgeries at the same time. In other cases, women may need to complete further cancer treatment and will wait until the mastectomy incisions have healed. This is known as delayed reconstruction and can be performed months or even years after a mastectomy.
3. What can I expect during recovery?
As with any surgery, women need to account for some recovery time after this procedure. Often, women stay in the hospital for up to a week after surgery, depending on the patient and type of procedure. Women may be instructed to only sleep in certain positions and avoid strenuous exercise while the incision site is healing. There may be some scarring. Typically, however, these scars will fade over time. Massage therapy and certain creams can reduce the appearance of scars.
Pros and cons of reconstruction options
Some research has shown that, when immediate reconstruction is an option, women are often more satisfied with the appearance of the new breast. Researchers have also found that many women prefer the natural look and feel of an autologous tissue reconstruction instead of an implant. However, women should also keep in mind that this type of surgery takes longer to heal than a reconstructive procedure that uses implants.
A more positive experience
After a total mastectomy, breast reconstruction can help women feel more positive about overall treatment. Women should ask questions early on in the treatment process about reconstructive options. Speak with a surgeon today to learn more.