Breast reconstruction represents a very important step in a woman’s complex physical and mental journey following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. This adds a lot of extra emotional weight when making decisions about the best way to proceed. Essentially, there are two basic options: immediate or delayed. How can you and your surgeon decide which is right for you?
Factors to Consider
There are a number of factors that need to be considered when choosing the best approach toward breast reconstruction, including:
- Your overall health
- The type of surgery performed (mastectomy or lumpectomy)
- Whether further treatment, such as radiation, will be needed
The first stage of immediate reconstruction can begin at the same time as the mastectomy. This is convenient for many women in terms of scheduling and other arrangements. Immediate reconstruction may be easier from an emotional standpoint as well; although the natural breast is removed, the patient awakes from this surgery to see that the first steps have already been taken toward breast augmentation, which can feel encouraging. Cosmetic results may be better with immediate reconstruction as well.
Other women may feel that thinking about breast implants and working through a cancer diagnosis at the same time is just too much all at once, and prefer delayed reconstruction. The mastectomy is performed first, and reconstruction can begin weeks or months later. This is the better option for women who require radiation or additional cancer treatments, although the cosmetic results may be more limited by resulting scar tissue.
Whichever path you choose, it’s important to understand that either type of reconstruction will require more than one procedure. Achieving beautiful final results is a process based on a number of different considerations as well as your doctors’ advice and your personal feelings.