20 Sep Breast Implants After Mastectomy: When Is The Best Time To Schedule Breast Reconstruction?
Reconstruction After Mastectomy
Breast cancer is a diagnosis that can be devastating to a woman. Along with having to fight to live, many women are faced with the fear of surgery. While medically necessary and a life-saving procedure, a mastectomy can damage a woman’s self-esteem since the surgery visibly alters the body’s profile. The process requires tissue to be completely removed from the breasts. However, depending on a patient’s future goals, skin flaps may be preserved if a woman wants to get implants at a later date in a process known as breast reconstruction. After a mastectomy, many patients want to know when reconstruction surgery can be performed.
When to schedule
Each case will be unique, and when to schedule reconstruction ultimately depends on the severity of a person’s cancer. Some individuals can have a mastectomy and elect for immediate reconstruction during the same operation. The back-to-back operation is performed right after the cancerous tissue is removed. The 2-step procedure involves oncologists and plastic surgeons who work together to remove affected tissue and then insert breast implants or leverage fat transfer to reshape the breasts all at once. Immediate reconstruction after a mastectomy is very common, but not all cancer patients are good candidates for the option.
When waiting is required
As nice as an immediate reconstruction can be for a woman’s self-esteem, the process isn’t always possible. Women with cancer that has progressed usually must wait to schedule reconstruction. For example, if cancer has spread to other parts of the body, and a woman must continue treatment, waiting is best. In some cases, radiation therapy can change the look or feel of the breasts. Likewise, some women lose breast volume during treatments like chemotherapy.
In these scenarios, breast reconstruction will be delayed until the treatments are finished.
Preserving the breasts
Waiting doesn’t mean a woman has to be negatively impacted by a new unwanted appearance. When surgeons know that a patient wants reconstruction but can’t do so immediately, options exist. Delayed-immediate reconstruction is a solution that leverages placeholder implants known as spacers. The spacer supports the breast’s shape and the remaining skin and can be left in the body anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Once treatment is complete, reconstruction can proceed, and the spacers will be replaced with breast implants.
Cancer free and looking great
With breast cancer, beating the diagnosis is the most important concern. Still, people understand that appearances matter, and many women want to return to how the body formerly looked. In some cases, immediate reconstruction is possible. However, other patients may need to wait until additional cancer treatments are finished. To fully understand what to expect and a realistic timeline, speak with an oncologist or a board-certified plastic surgeon experienced in breast reconstruction after mastectomies.