Breast reconstruction surgery—and whether to have it done—is a very personal decision. Some women may consult with a plastic/reconstructive surgeon prior to a mastectomy or double mastectomy, while others may choose to wait, or be advised to wait, by their oncologist. Either way, the goal of the surgery is to restore symmetry and a sense of normalcy for the patient.
Although each patient is unique, there are a few basic considerations for any woman considering breast reconstruction surgery:
- What are your expectations for the end result? In other words, what do you hope to accomplish through this procedure? Do you want symmetry so that your clothes look better on you? Or do you want to look as good as possible without your clothes on? Every woman will have a slightly different goal, so understanding your personal expectations is key.
- What are your expectations for the process? Typical breast reconstruction procedures involve more than one surgery to achieve the desired results. Again, each patient is different, so each procedure may differ slightly in its details. Getting as close as possible to your goal is critical.
- Are you in good health? It’s vital to go over a complete medical history—including, medical conditions, cancer treatments and any drug allergies that may affect the course of treatment.
- Are you worried about more scarring? While we strive for the best aesthetic results possible with all of our procedures, it’s important to remember that there will be some degree of scarring from reconstructive surgeries.
- Are you worried about the surgery/recovery/healing time? Reconstructive surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia. Like any surgical procedure, breast reconstruction does pose some degree of risk. Your surgeon should review the risks to help you weigh the pros and cons. Each patient is different, so recovery times will vary from patient to patient.
Clear, honest communication between doctor and patient is critical to a positive outcome in any reconstructive surgery. Be sure to discuss with your surgeon all of your concerns so that she or he can help you make the best—and healthiest—choices possible.
Emily A. Peterson, M.D., plastic and reconstructive surgeon, is the first plastic surgeon employed by Mount Nittany Physician Group. To contact her office, go to cosmetic.mountnittany.org or call 814-231-7878.