Breast cancer is devastating, life-changing, and traumatic. There are physical and emotional roadblocks that all breast cancer survivors struggle with after beating cancer. Some women have full breast tissue removal on one or both breasts, known as a mastectomy or partial removal, known as a lumpectomy. These surgical procedures significantly increase your chances of eradicating breast cancer. They also take a large toll on your confidence and self-esteem, which is why most women have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or lumpectomy to restore femininity.
There are several aspects to keep in mind as you consider if and when to have breast reconstruction, including:
1. The Emotional Impact of a Mastectomy or Lumpectomy
Women with breast cancer must make the impossible decision to have a mastectomy or lumpectomy, and some may still require radiation therapy. Even when women go into remission, there are lingering fears of breast cancer returning. In addition to these valid anxieties, many women struggle to feel like themselves after their surgery. Finding clothing that fits is difficult, and that loss of femininity is an ongoing battle. It’s recommended to see a psychologist as well as your doctors about your options, including mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
It’s mandatory that insurance plans cover breast reconstruction after a single or double mastectomy, so cost is not as much of a concern. Younger women seem more prone to struggle to regain their sense of womanhood, but this emotional impact affects breast cancer survivors of all ages.
Breast reconstruction is often considered a part of the healing process for breast cancer patients. However, you must consider this procedure because of your own goals and not the opinions of others.
2. DIEP Flap Reconstruction or Breast Reconstruction with Implants
Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) flap microsurgery is the most advanced breast reconstruction option available. The procedure uses excess skin tissue and fat from the abdomen to create “natural” breast tissue. The DIEP process also relocates blood vessels from the abdomen to the breasts, which requires excellent surgical precision to create a natural breast mound shape. DIEP flap microsurgery comes with the added benefit of fat reduction in the abdomen, similar to a tummy tuck.
Dr. Ben Brown and Dr. Ashley Chandler in Pensacola are regularly recommended to patients. They are two of very few plastic surgeons who specialize in the DIEP flap procedure. Restore Plastic Surgery is also a preferred in-network provider for the revolutionary method and welcomes patients from all over the country, including out-of-town insurance plans.
Breast reconstruction can also be accomplished with breast implants, which is a common choice for women. Saline or silicone implants are used to achieve the desired breast size and shape.
3. Immediate or Delayed Breast Reconstruction
You have two options for breast reconstruction when it comes to timing. Immediate breast reconstruction is performed at the time of your mastectomy. The DIEP flap or direct-to-implant reconstruction can be performed as well as the two-step tissue expander option. Breast reconstruction with breast implants that are placed during your mastectomy typically doesn’t require tissue expansion. If it is necessary, the expander is placed at the same instance of the mastectomy and works to gradually stretch the skin to create space for the breast implant later on.
Delayed breast reconstruction is performed after you’ve recovered from your mastectomy. This can be done months or years following your procedure. However, it’s best to do so within the first year as the skin becomes tougher and scar tissue thickens. There are multiple options for delayed breast reconstruction, including DIEP flap, TRAM flap, and tissue expander.
Some women may need revision surgery to improve initial results or if they’re unhappy with their breast appearance after reconstruction with another surgeon.
You may not qualify for breast reconstruction if you’re morbidly obese, a nicotine user, in poor health, or have had a previous abdominoplasty (for DIEP flap).
4. Choose Your Plastic Surgeon Wisely
The plastic surgeon you choose for your breast reconstruction will directly impact your satisfaction with your results. Dr. Ben Brown is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and Dr. Ashley Chandler is board eligible. Both of our plastic surgeons are highly skilled and have extensive experience in DIEP flap breast reconstruction. We understand the devasting impact of breast cancer and mastectomies on the lives of women and can restore your self-confidence and feelings of normalcy.
Before you choose your plastic surgeon, do your research by reading patient reviews, looking at before and after photos, and confirming their qualifications. Write down a list of questions and talk with other breast cancer survivors about their experience before your consultation.
Schedule Your Breast Reconstruction Consultation in Pensacola
If you’re interested in breast reconstruction, contact our plastic surgeons at Restore Plastic Surgery today at (850) 500-7527. We provide a variety of procedures to patients in Pensacola, Florida, and Mobile, Alabama, as well as patients traveling from out of town.