For the nearly 4 million American women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, successful treatment is certainly a cause for celebration. But for those undergoing lumpectomy or mastectomy as part of their treatment, changes in the way their breasts look and feel can leave many women feeling frustrated and depressed.
Fortunately, breast reconstruction surgery can help, restoring breast size, shape, and feel. The problem is, even though breast reconstruction plays a critical role in helping many women recover, the surgery itself is surrounded by misconceptions and misunderstandings.
Chelsea Snider, MD, and the team at Vida Bela Plastic Surgery want women to know the truth about breast cancer reconstruction surgery. In this post, Dr. Snider and our team tackle the most common myths to help women stay informed.
Myth 1: Reconstruction is the same for every woman
Fact: Your breasts are uniquely yours, and that means your surgery may be different from someone else’s, too. Dr. Snider works closely with your oncologist, radiologist, and other medical team members to ensure your reconstruction is optimized for your physical and emotional needs.
Myth 2: Breast implants increase your risk of breast cancer
Fact: Breast implants don’t increase your risk of future breast cancer, nor do they cause breast cancer.
Myth 3: Breast implants make it harder to detect cancer in the future
Fact: This is a common misconception, and it’s completely false. There’s no evidence that breast implants of any type make it harder to detect cancer in the future.
Myth 4: Breast implants are the only option for breast reconstruction
Fact: Many patients opt for “flap” reconstruction, a surgery that uses your own tissue taken from another part of your body, like your belly, buttocks, or back. Other patients can benefit from a combination of the two approaches.
Myth 5: If you’ve had radiation, you can’t have breast reconstruction
Fact: Neither radiation therapy nor chemotherapy prevents you from having reconstruction surgery. If you’ve had radiation, Dr. Snider may recommend a flap procedure to avoid potential complications that can occur when implants are used after radiation. It’s just one more way she makes sure your reconstruction is customized for you.
Myth 6: Reconstruction must be performed right after a mastectomy
Fact: You can have breast reconstruction surgery at any time after your mastectomy. There are very few contraindications for reconstruction, and most women are good candidates. Some women decide to have reconstruction shortly after their mastectomy surgery, while many others decide to wait and discuss all their options before moving forward.
Myth 7: Breast reconstruction is permanent
Fact: Reconstruction may involve multiple surgeries to create a pocket for implants and to prepare the underlying muscle before the implant or flap procedure is performed. Plus, breast reconstruction can always be “fine tuned” in the future if you’re not pleased with your results. The key is to discuss your concerns with your doctor, so your reconstruction can be adjusted to suit you.
Myth 8: Breast implants never need to be replaced
Fact: Breast implants aren’t designed to last forever. If your reconstruction includes an implant, you’ll have regular imaging studies to monitor the implant and determine when replacement is advisable.
Myth 9: Reconstruction is only for women who’ve had mastectomies, not lumpectomies
Fact: Dr. Snider performs reconstruction surgery for women who’ve had complete mastectomies, as well as women who’ve had lumpectomies, where only part of the breast tissue is removed.
Don’t let misconceptions keep you from learning more about breast reconstruction surgery. Call our practice in Plano and Frisco, Texas, or book an appointment online, and speak with Dr. Snider about your reconstruction options.