When you’re faced with the prospect of a mastectomy, it can be difficult to think beyond the surgery. There’s already too much on your plate, and many patients manage the stress by taking surgery, treatment, and reconstruction one step at a time. With that being said, it may be beneficial to briefly consider what reconstruction options you might be interested in after your surgery. In some cases, your surgeon may be able to spare skin and tissue necessary to achieve the look and feel you want once you’re in the clear.
Options after Mastectomy
This guide is intended as a cursory glance at the options that may be available to you after your mastectomy. When you’re ready, you can use it as a starting point for discussing your options with your oncologist and your plastic surgeon. Keep in mind that there may be some options that aren’t available depending on the severity of your cancer. If your oncologist suggests a more radical removal of breast tissue, then it is your best interest to listen to the experts.
These are the most common choices patients make post-mastectomy in regard to reconstruction. For a more thorough understanding of potential risks as they pertain to your individual case, talk to your breast surgeon in Houston.
Passing on Reconstruction
For some patients the mastectomy and treatment are already a lot to handle. This is one of the many reasons why a patient may decide not to pursue reconstruction. Fortunately, you can always make the choice to have reconstruction later, but it can be more complicated if you wait. Until you’ve had a mastectomy, you don’t realize how much muscle, fat, and tissue contribute to your chest. The realization can be quite jarring, but it is a valid decision for many patients.
Medicine has come a long way in just a few decades. And it’s often possible for patients to avoid a radical double mastectomy. Lumpectomy and partial mastectomies are far more common now, and many of them don’t even need reconstruction. However, when the surgeon has to remove a lot of tissue or an uneven amount, the immediate placement of small implants or fat grafts can help to protect the patient from emotional trauma.
The same logic holds for women with more radical surgeries. In some cases, it’s simply better for the patient’s general health to wake up with their breasts looking similar to or better than their natural breasts. It isn’t always possible. But it’s an option worth discussing if you’re concerned that the loss of breast tissue may be too stressful for you. It’s a part of your body, and your doctor will understand your concerns.
It’s completely normal for some patients to wait on reconstructive surgery. It allows your body a chance to recover and gives you the opportunity to ensure that you’re cancer-free. However, there are a few things you should consider if you’re thinking about delaying your reconstruction.
Your surgeon should be aware of the fact that you are planning to have reconstruction later. So they will be prepared to discuss realistic options with you. They may be able to save:
- Extra skin
- And even your nipples
But only if they know you’re planning to have surgery later. There aren’t any guarantees, but they can give it their best shot.
On the bright side, flap surgeries and nipple reconstruction have reached a high level of sophistication. Now you can achieve a very natural-looking reconstruction even if your surgeon cannot save extra tissue. Those surgeries are just a little more involved, so it makes sense to keep your options open until your surgeon can determine what can be safely preserved.
Considering Your Options After a Mastectomy
Regardless of what option you’re considering, your breast reconstruction specialist in Houston will be able to talk you through the entire process to help you find what’s best for you.