Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy?
Why Do Some Women Refuse Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy?
Mastectomy is the surgery performed by cancer surgeons to remove the whole breast when a woman has breast cancer. Breast reconstruction is a surgery performed by plastic surgeons to build a new breast, almost the same size and shape as before. You can even have a nipple and an areola added to make it look as close to the real breast as possible.
You can have a reconstructive surgery just after your mastectomy or postpone it to some other time. It is understandable that many women need some time to come to terms with the impact that breast removal has on their self-image.
According to the National Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction Audit of England and Wales published last year,around 17,000 women a year have a mastectomy, but only a quarter have reconstructive surgery.
Most of the reconstructions are those which are carried out along with mastectomy. Generally women who opt for trying breast reconstruction later in life end up never having it.
The Reasons Behind Women Refusing Breast Reconstruction
Fiona MacNeill, consultant breast surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital, West London, says ‘in specialist centers that offer reconstruction routinely and have access to highly trained surgeons, only about 40 to 50 per cent of women have breast reconstructions’.
She also says that a woman’s decision about reconstruction could depend on her age. ‘A lot of older women, particularly mothers, see their breasts as functional and now they’ve served their purpose are less affected by their loss, while younger women are more likely to have reconstructions.’
Another reason that puts women off could be the long recovery time required after the surgery.’Their breasts are never going to look, feel or have the same sensation as before treatment. Some patients take pride in their scars and see them as a sign of winning a battle,’ adds Fiona.
It may also happen that surgery, chemo, radiation and all the side effects drain away a woman’s energy so much that she has none left for yet another surgical procedure.
Reconstructive surgery comes with its share of risks. Within five years of reconstruction, almost one third of the women need revision operations because of issues like asymmetry or hardness and pain caused by tissues formed around the implant, also called capsular contracture.
Having a breast reconstruction can make your chest look balanced, especially when you wear a swimsuit. It is believed that this surgery boosts your self-esteem and body image but this might not be always true. The look and feel of the reconstructed breast might not satisfy you. Rebuilt breasts hardly have any nerve sensation and are also cold to touch. Moreover, as you age, your natural breast and your reconstructed breast may look very different from each other, making you even more conscious about your image.
According to an article in the October 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, roughly 180,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Of those, two thirds opted for a lumpectomy with radiation; one third chose mastectomy; and 56,000 underwent reconstruction–double the number from just a decade ago.
Two celebrities who brought mastectomy in the limelight in recent times are Angelina Jolie and Valerie Campbell, mother of supermodel Naomi Campbell. Both had a double mastectomy. Jolie went for breast reconstruction while Valerie refused to have one.
Ultimately, it is your choice to have or refuse a breast reconstruction. Before you decide, you must try and find out as much as you can and ask all the questions that crop up in your mind. You may like to have a second opinion and even a third one to clear your doubts. Almost 3 million women in America battle with breast cancer every year. Not all need mastectomy and out of those who undergo mastectomy, not all get breast reconstruction. It is all a matter of individual choice.
Author Bio: Michelle Tyler is a medical writer who writes well-researched, in-depth cancer articles which provide relevant information to help patients combat the deadly disease. Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) prides in providing the best cancer treatment solutions to patients who have endured to various cancer types.