When Are You Ready for Reconstruction?
"Cancer" is one of the most devastating words that any person can hear, and for women diagnosed with breast cancer, the news can have different implications. Not only is there a significant threat to a woman’s health and life, but there is a high chance that the appearance of a woman’s breasts will be drastically altered. For many women undergoing breast cancer treatment, mastectomy or lumpectomy, is the only way to ensure their health and safety, which is the number one priority. The emotional feeling of having to undergo that kind of procedure, however, is something that may never fully be remedied. Fortunately, cosmetic enhancements can help women. Breast reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy may help women regain their pre-cancer look. When finding yourself in this situation, you may begin to wonder how long after the initial surgery and treatment you should wait until undergoing breast reconstruction. Although there is no definite timeline, there are some things to keep in mind.
Are You Scheduled to Have Additional Treatments?
Breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or lumpectomy is performed either in an immediate or delayed fashion. Immediate reconstruction means that your breast reconstruction will be performed at the same time as your mastectomy or lumpectomy. By working together, your surgical oncologist and your plastic surgeon accomplish this task during the same procedure. There are many benefits to immediate reconstruction. The first is that you are able to begin the reconstructive process during the same session as your mastectomy, and you will only have to recover from one anesthetic. The other advantage is that by the time you awaken, you have already started the reconstructive, healing phase. Unfortunately, just as there are pros to this timing, there are also cons. Immediate reconstruction is not appropriate for all patients. Patients that are still expected to have further chemotherapy or radiation treatments may not be candidates for immediate reconstruction. You will need to discuss these options with your plastic surgeon. For this reason, waiting for reconstruction may be a better option for some women.
Delayed reconstruction is the other option. Delayed reconstruction means that you have finished all of your cancer treatments before starting the reconstruction process. The delayed procedure may begin six months to one year after your mastectomy or lumpectomy, or you can choose to postpone reconstruction even longer. The benefit of delayed reconstruction is that you know for sure that your treatment will not affect your reconstructed breasts.
Are You Emotionally Ready?
The course of your treatment can take your emotions on a rollercoaster of sorts. Being emotionally prepared for breast reconstruction is just as important as being physically prepared. Are you ready to begin this reconstructive journey? For some women, the time to do this is immediately after the initial procedure, and for others, it may be years down the line. There is no "right" time to undergo breast reconstruction, technically speaking; there is only the right time for you.
To get more information about breast reconstruction, contact Dr. Austin today at 503-561-7000.