Mastectomy To Masterpiece: Know The Timeline For Breast Reconstruction Procedures


Mastectomy To Masterpiece: Know The Timeline For Breast Reconstruction Procedures

What Happens After A Mastectomy

Breast cancer patients sometimes undergo mastectomy as part of the treatment process. While there are different types of mastectomy, women are often left with a feeling of loss and insecurity after the removal of one or both breasts. Such a negative impact on body image and self-esteem may then impact quality of life even after surviving breast cancer. Different decisions come into play, with breast reconstruction a possibility. With this procedure, the goal is to restore breasts using implants or other means and help regain a sense of wholeness and confidence. Despite the benefits, there is a timeline that varies from patient to patient.

Advantages of immediate reconstruction

Some women may be eligible for immediate breast reconstruction. Surgeons perform the procedure right after the mastectomy. With this type of breast reconstruction, the woman will go through one surgery for both the mastectomy and reconstruction simultaneously. This option eliminates the need for multiple surgeries and reduces the overall recovery timeline. Moreover, the patient will no longer have to go through the emotional and psychological toll of being without breasts during the healing process.

Your timeline for immediate reconstruction

Mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction surgery may last from 3-8 hours, depending on the material used for reconstruction and the surgical technique used. After this, the recovery period generally takes 4 weeks but may extend up to 6-8 weeks depending on the individual’s healing process and potential complications. Patients should strictly adhere to the surgeon’s post-operative care instructions to ensure a quick and smooth recovery.

Why delay breast reconstruction?

In some instances, patients must delay breast reconstruction procedures. Postponing surgery is especially crucial if the patient still needs to undergo radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy. These treatments may affect a reconstructed breast, thereby causing changes in color, volume, texture, or overall appearance. Moreover, those who have other medical complications, such as diabetes, immune disorder, or heart disease, may also be advised to delay reconstruction.

Timeline for delayed reconstruction

If the surgeon recommends a delayed reconstruction, the patient may undergo the mastectomy first and other necessary treatments. Once the treatments are completed, the patient may proceed with the breast reconstruction procedure after 6-12 months. The procedure may also be delayed further, depending on the response to treatment, health condition, and overall readiness. After the delayed breast reconstruction, women feel better within 6-8 weeks, but complete healing of the tissues may take 1-2 years.

Ask your doctor

Women who desire to undergo a breast reconstruction procedure after mastectomy should discuss options and treatment plans with the healthcare team. This will help to understand the advantages, risks, and potential complications associated with immediate and delayed breast reconstruction. Women can then grasp the bigger picture, which is being cancer-free and healthy. From there, an informed decision aligning with specific circumstances and goals can help move from mastectomy to masterpiece.

Contact John Park MD Plastic Surgery

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