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Treatment

Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 4 - Breast Reconstruction

Following a mastectomy, you have options to help you become comfortable with the changes in your body. They are all options, with benefits to each approach. What is best for you and your body may not be what is best for another woman.

If you are considering breast reconstruction, you should speak with your medical team before the mastectomy, even if you plan to have your reconstruction later on.

Reconstruction Methods
There are a few of options for breast reconstruction, and which one you use will depend on your age, body type, and treatment plan.

Implants
One possibility is to have breast implants. The breast is filled with silicone sacs of saline or silicone gel.

TRAM Flap, Latissimus Flap, or Gluteal Flap
An alternative solution is to use tissue the surgeon removes from another part of your body, like the belly (TRAM), back (latissimus), or buttocks (gluteal). The surgeon sculpts this tissue into the shape of your breast.

Surgical Summary
In addition to reconstructing the breast, the surgeon can add a nipple, change the shape or size of the reconstructed breast, and operate on the opposite breast as well for a better match. The plastic surgeon will be able to discuss with you the benefits and risks of each procedure, and help you decide what will make you feel the most natural.

Alternative to Breast Reconstruction
One alternative to breast reconstruction is a removable prosthetic breast that is worn in the bra. This will preserve the shape and look of the breast without the surgical procedures.

Summary
Whether you undergo breast reconstruction, wear a prosthetic breast, or choose to embrace the changes you have experienced, you should make a decision that is right for you. The goal is to prevent the discomfort of change, while enabling you to accept what has occurred and continue on with your life.

Related Questions

  • beth poyner Profile

    I am set to have a one step nipple saving double mastectomy on 8/24. Has anyone had this procedure and if so did you have any complications?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 2 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 0 Patient

      I had this surgery on July 6th. It went great! I had an excellent surgeon and plastic surgeon. I went with silicone implants. They are safe and the doctor recommended them. I would ask how many of these procedures your plastic surgeon has performed and if he has any pictures of people after the...

      more

      I had this surgery on July 6th. It went great! I had an excellent surgeon and plastic surgeon. I went with silicone implants. They are safe and the doctor recommended them. I would ask how many of these procedures your plastic surgeon has performed and if he has any pictures of people after the procedure. This will help you see how you will look. I was in a lot of pain after the procedure for a couple of weeks. It really does take time to get over it. Take it slow and listen to your body. I was showering two days after with my husband's help. If you don't already have one, get one of those shower heads that you can adjust and is handheld. My shower has a seat built in and so that helped. My PS also used Alloderm when he put in the implants, which he said helped to cradle the implants and make them feel more natural. There is a slight risk of your skin dying, but that did not happen to me. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the implants. They are different, but they look better than what I had before :-) I only had an incision above the nipple. You will be swollen and the breasts will shift some and get settled so they look slightly different after 6 weeks. The drains were absolutely the worst part of the whole thing and when I finally got those removed, I felt like I was really healing much better. Every person is different and every person's body heals differently. I began driving after about 5 weeks. I wore my husband's t-shirts or button down shirts for a few weeks because I had trouble lifting my arms. Your breasts and underarms will be numb. My left side is beginning to gain some feeling, but my affected side is taking longer to recover. Get a good electric razor! I had lymph nodes removed, so read about precautions you must take to avoid lymphedema. I have not had any complications so far. Also get a good sports bra that zips or fastens in the front. I have been wearing one made Danskin and purchased at Wal-Mart. They zip up the front and have very good support. After wearing it all day, it can rub the wrong way some so I wear a cami underneath. Don't get the cami with the built in shelf bra, though. That is irritating. The breasts are different than natural breasts in that they are wider and more round so buying a bra was different. When I went to purchase a bra, I went to Victoria's Secret. They have a great selection on non-padded bras of great quality. I do wear one for a short period of time, but I still feel more comfortable in the sports bra. I am back to light exercise and brisk walking, although still sore. Doctor says not to run yet. I have been very blessed. I have learned what so many have said. Breast Cancer is indeed a journey and every journey is different, but we can learn so much from others. I hope your experience is without complication and if you get down about it, say out loud, "My cancer is gone!" That is the blessing in all of it. Prayers for you!! P.S. If you are interested in a medical ID bracelet for lymphedema alert Lauren's Hope has some really cute ones. I found them online.

      Comment
    • Karen Heilman Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had this procedure done on May 22 and have had no complications relating to the surgery. I would say, though, that it's crucial for you and your doc to be on the same page about the surgery and what your expectations are. Because you are having a one step process and going straight to...

      more

      I had this procedure done on May 22 and have had no complications relating to the surgery. I would say, though, that it's crucial for you and your doc to be on the same page about the surgery and what your expectations are. Because you are having a one step process and going straight to implants rather than expanders, you need to make sure you have clearly communicated your desires to your doctor. Try to be clear about your vision for your "new" body in terms of size, etc.

      A lot depends on how the surgery goes, the condition of the skin once the mastectomy is completed, and the skill of your surgeon. It's not possible for any doctor to tell you exactly what you will look like afterward. Also understand that even if the procedure goes perfectly and they are able to save your skin, aureolas, and nipples, the resulting reconstructed breast will not look or FEEL like your natural breasts to you. You'll still be you, but different.

      I hope this helps a little. Please let me know if there is anything else you'd like to know. Prayers and good luck to you!!

      Comment
  • judith rowley Profile

    I just had my expanders taken out on Sept 3rd and my implants put in. I am already on my feet and barely have any pain and it's only been 6 days. so happy! hope this helps someone who is worried about recovery.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 1 year 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Mimi Carroll Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Happy dance for you! And thank you for ousting to help others see that they don't need to worry so much!!!

      Comment
    • Becky N Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Yay! A happy story for once! Ditto on the happy dance!

      Comment
  • Josephine Mannarino Profile

    What is oncoplasty?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 2 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Josephine.... it is a type of reconstruction done at the time of surgery. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Karen G Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Oncoplasty is a surgical procedure where they go in and take out more tissue than a lumpectomy would do that they coyl

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    I just had a partial mastectomy- no more infiltrating ductal carcinoma, have clear margins, negative lymph nodes but still in-situ present. I need more surgery before I start adjuvant therapy. I need info, advice, support- any? Thanks

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 1 Patient
    almost 2 years 3 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      If the next surgery is to put in a port for the chemo. You will be happy you did it. God Bless your journey

      Comment
    • cindy stephenson Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Denise - I had the same thing. They went in 2 more times to get clear margins from the ductal cancer. The reexcision surgeries are much easy than the first one. I would be healing really good then open me up again but end result - clear margins. I started chemo 3 weeks after last surgery n...

      more

      Denise - I had the same thing. They went in 2 more times to get clear margins from the ductal cancer. The reexcision surgeries are much easy than the first one. I would be healing really good then open me up again but end result - clear margins. I started chemo 3 weeks after last surgery n radiation 3 weeks after last chemo

      2 comments

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