Making the Choice for Breast Reconstruction

A person who is experiencing breast cancer has many choices to make. If a mastectomy will be part of the treatment, one of the decisions may be whether or not to have reconstructive surgery.

Individuals who will have a partial or complete breast removal are likely candidates for breast reconstruction. Because this procedure is a reconstruction procedure, most health insurance plans will cover the expenses associated with the surgery.

Breast reconstruction is done by a qualified plastic surgeon. He or she will talk over the different options available with the surgery. Thanks to advancements in modern medicine and more information known about breast cancer, most cases of reconstruction are able to rebuild the breasts so they are about the same size and shape as before cancer treatment.

There are several reasons to undergo a reconstruction, not the least of which is self-esteem. Rebuilding the breast enables a woman to feel more like herself before cancer struck. Only surgery can help a woman permanently regain breast shape. Breast reconstruction also can help bras and other clothing fit better after a mastectomy. It also eliminates the reliance on mastectomy bras and external prosthetics.

For those who have chosen breast reconstruction, the next choice is whether to have it as an "immediate" surgery or "delayed." Immediate means that it will be done directly after the actual mastectomy. This reduces the number of surgeries. Delayed reconstruction will occur at a later date after the mastectomy.

Although many reconstructive surgeries do a fine job of restoring the breasts's natural look with minimal scarring, there are some that won't provide the results that one ultimately desires. Some surgeries result in complications, such as tissue necrosis, which will have to be fixed with further surgeries. In other cases, individuals find the breasts do not look or feel as natural as they may have hoped. It's best to discuss hopes and desires about reconstruction with the surgeon before beginning.

Some women choose to decline reconstructive surgery primarily because they want to limit the amount of unnecessary surgery. Others may not be physically able to handle more surgery. Thin women may not have enough skin to produce skin flaps needed for reconstruction.

Reconstruction generally involves implants or tissue flap procedures. Implants will be silicone or saline and are similar to the type used in breast enhancements. Tissue flap procedures involve taking tissue from other areas of the body, such as the stomach, buttocks or back areas, to rebuild the breast.

A competent doctor is a woman's best friend in a reconstructive procedure. One should carefully research plastic surgeons who specialize in breast reconstruction.

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