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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

  • Donna Gray Profile

    Has anyone had health issues with silicone implants? I want silicone implants to replace my saline- they are very filled and hard. I had a mastectomy in 2011.

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2011
    about 6 years 2 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I chose not to do implants at all. I'm doing the DIEP flap. It's the right thing for me.

      3 comments
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      I had silicone implants in 1979 for cosmetic reasons. Had them for twenty seven years with o problems. They were beautiful! Only had them out when I was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a bi-lat. I loved them.

      2 comments
  • judith rowley Profile

    Have to decide on whether to have a single or double mastectomy. any advice on decision making? hardest decision I have ever had to make :(

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 14 answers
    • View all 14 answers
    • julie s Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      My plastic surgeon said its easier to make them match with bilateral... For what it's worth. I know these decisions we have to make are very difficult.

      Comment
    • Rita Jo Hayes Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      I chose both as doc said there was a40% chance to have it in the left breast. You will find the right choice for you.

      Comment
  • kinya trotman Profile

    I am having a double mastectomy with immediate DIEP flap reconstruction. Does anyone have experience with recovery time and pain management involved?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 5 years 2 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I was in the hospital 5 days also, the drains at the breast area were removed before I left the hospital. The two drains at the tummy area were removed about 2-3 weeks later. I think the drains vary from person to person on how long they need to be in. I had very minor pain in breast area,...

      more

      I was in the hospital 5 days also, the drains at the breast area were removed before I left the hospital. The two drains at the tummy area were removed about 2-3 weeks later. I think the drains vary from person to person on how long they need to be in. I had very minor pain in breast area, tummy was a little worse, mostly tightness but tolerable with the Q ball or Q-pump when in hospital and pain meds which I used for about a week when I got home. My nurses called me the poster child for the DIEP flap because I had not much pain and very little use of pain medication

      Comment
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I didn't the pain was that bad. I was 5 days in the hospital. About 4 weeks I was doing everyday things. 7 weeks after the surgery I went on vacation. I had a little extra trouble with fluid and had to to have a drain put back in but I don't think that was a DIEP thing.

      Comment
  • marianne  hayes Profile

    should I delay my bilateral mastectomy to have reconstruction at the same time or have a 2-stage op? I'm so confused. I have a stage II from biop 18mm lump in the upper outside quadrant of my left breast.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 2 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Marianne. That's a very tough decision. You mentioned...should you delay having your bilateral mastectomy to have reconstruction. I'm just curious about the delay question. I didn't have the option for immediate reconstruction due to my late stage of cancer, it being in my chest wall, etc. I...

      more

      Hi Marianne. That's a very tough decision. You mentioned...should you delay having your bilateral mastectomy to have reconstruction. I'm just curious about the delay question. I didn't have the option for immediate reconstruction due to my late stage of cancer, it being in my chest wall, etc. I am almost finished with radiation and I will have reconstruction when I'm healed from that. I have heard both good and bad arguments both ways. I know when choosing expanders then implants, there's the chance of capsular contracture when doing radiation. Thats the negative. The positive is that when you wake from surgery...you will have something there. Another thing to consider is the fact that if you choose to wait...your skin tightens a good bit during radiation and your skin in the radiated area may not be enough to do the expanders & implants. But then of course you can choose another such as DIEP flap (which they'll do a mini tummy tuck as well) or another type. I am going to be visiting plastic surgeons soon Best wishes in whatever you decide. :)

      Comment
    • Wendy DeLong Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I am a stage 2A dx'd on 12/8/11. My tumor was 1.5 cm in left breast. I had left side mastectomy with expander insertion on Jan 9. For me the mastectomy was the first step in treatment. Starting the reconstruction at the same time was an option for me and I opted for it. I'm glad I did it. ...

      more

      I am a stage 2A dx'd on 12/8/11. My tumor was 1.5 cm in left breast. I had left side mastectomy with expander insertion on Jan 9. For me the mastectomy was the first step in treatment. Starting the reconstruction at the same time was an option for me and I opted for it. I'm glad I did it. Not because I still feel like I have a breast because this expander is a good ways from what I am thinking my perm implant will eventually look like...... But because I feel like its one less thing to do later. I am ER PR and HER -. My sentinal node did show some cancer while the remaining 12 were clean. My mastectomy biopsy found only precancerous cells in the area that surrounded the original tumor and nothing else in the whole breast. Last week I finished my 4th A/C which was my last. I start 12 weeks of Taxol on April 12 and then I will do 5 years of the hormone pill as well. Once I'm done the end if June with Taxol, ( if all goes well), I plan to do right side mastectomy with expander as soon as I am well enough. This has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I'm a go getter.... But this AC gives me a run!! But I just take my "medicine" because I have to. I have a loving supportive family and lots of friends praying for me. I am excited about starting the next step of my treatment as it puts me one step closer to being done.!! All your posts are an Inspiration to me. I wish you all the best! Love and prayers- :)

      Comment

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