Breast reconstruction surgery provides breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomies a chance to feel like themselves once more, and to remove some of the more visible reminders of their former illness.
Several myths surround reconstruction surgery despite their prolificacy. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month – and Breast Reconstruction Day, which falls on the 16th of October – spend some time reading and educating others about the facts and the fictions behind a common undertaking for mastectomy patients.
Myth #1: The Procedure is Only for Women
Although breast cancer disproportionately impacts women, men still suffer from the disease and do receive mastectomies. They qualify for breast reconstruction surgery as well, though many do not pursue it because they don’t realize it’s an option.
Corollaries to this myth include the assumption that smokers, drinkers and people over the age of 50 will also be denied breast reconstruction surgery. People in these categories might take longer to heal and require more monitoring than other patients, but smoking, drinking and age are not inherent deal breakers.
Myth #2: Radiation Therapy Automatically Disqualifies Patients
There is a kernel of truth to this myth, in that there may be select instances where radiation therapy will impede the ability to safely receive breast reconstruction surgery. It can change what sort of approach doctors take, owing to the fact that radiation may cause shifts in circulation and skin elasticity. However, undergoing radiation therapy does not automatically disqualify patients from the procedure. It does, however, require patients to wait until after the therapy is over before receiving reconstruction surgery.
Patients pursuing breast reconstruction should be in good health, and must consult with their physicians and plastic surgeons to determine the best course of action for their particular situation.
Myth #3: Reconstructed Breasts Will Look Unnatural
At Livingston Plastic Surgery, we work one-on-one with our patients to ensure their expectations for breast reconstruction surgery are realistic. An experienced surgeon like Dr. Livingston will know which methods are required to sculpt post-mastectomy breasts in a way that will resemble the previous shape and size of each patient’s breasts. Many patients prefer their bodies to look the same as it did before treatment, but some do elect for larger or more sculpted breasts.
Breast reconstruction can occur at any point following a mastectomy – it does not have to be scheduled immediately after. Some patients wait months or even years before deciding that they are ready for reconstruction surgery. This gives male and female patients alike plenty of time to think about what they want out of the surgery, and whether or not it’s the best choice for them.
Myth #4: All Breast Reconstructions Are Implants
Although silicone or saline implants are a part of many reconstruction surgeries, by no means should they be considered the only approach. Latissimus Dorsi Flap techniques reposition skin, fat, muscle and blood vessels from the back into natural-looking breasts. Similarly, the Transverse Rectus Abdominis (TRAM) technique utilizes the same donor matter, but from the abdomen instead of the back.
Each approach is appropriate for different situations, and plastic surgeons should work one-on-one with patients and their doctors to choose the right fit.
Here to Help
Livingston Plastic Surgery specializes in breast reconstruction surgery, employing many different methods in order to best serve mastectomy patients in their journey of recovery. Visit our before and after gallery for a look at past successes. If you feel like breast reconstruction surgery is the right choice for resetting your life following a mastectomy, contact Dr. Livingston today.