There is much written on the internet about this topic, and an overwhelming consensus of women commenting on it in forums wish they would have done their homework before agreeing to have breast reconstructive surgery. In fact, a 2016 study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has called for the provision of better information about the pros and cons of the surgery to breast cancer patients who undergo a mastectomy.
Whatever your reasons, don’t make the mistake of rushing into a decision. Instead, you can use this checklist of things to consider as a starting point.
- Research. As mentioned before, there is a wealth of information on the web, some better than others. Check out reputable sites like the Susan G. Komen site or Breastcancer.org. Remember, you are making a huge decision which will affect the rest of your life. Do your homework.
- Talk to your doctor – and maybe a few more. Discuss the possible options for your situation with your plastic surgeon and don’t settle for the one that he or she is most comfortable doing. You may have to go elsewhere to get the procedure that you ultimately want. At Breast Cancer Associates, we will be happy to review your options with you.
- It’s all about you. Breast reconstruction surgery is a personal decision, and should never be done to please a spouse, family member or friend. You are the one who will live with your choice for the rest of your life.
- Make time for it. The reconstruction process can take months, will involve a great deal of time, so plan accordingly by making arrangements with your workplace. You may also need to have some help at home, so explore and weigh your options.
- Bigger is not necessarily better. Many women fall into the trap of thinking, “well, if I’m going to do it, I might as well go up a couple of cup sizes.”This is not always best, and you may regret your decision in the long run. Don’t assume. Look at pictures and discuss with your surgeon what is right for your health, lifestyle, body type and build.
- Know your timeline. Find out what your parameters and deadlines are for the procedure. Maybe you can do it later, maybe you can’t, or maybe you can start the process now and finish later. Your health insurance policy should play a key role in this, so make sure you are aware of what it covers and when.
- It’s OK to look. Don’t feel embarrassed. Ask your plastic surgeon if he or she can show you pictures of other patients who have had the surgery. It will go a long way in allaying your fears.
- Ask questions. Nothing is off the table – make a list of all the questions you have and go over all of them with your doctor.
- Don’t forget your nipples. Don’t assume that your doctor can also do the reconstruction of nipples and aureoles. Knowing this information up front can save you time later on.
- Have realistic expectations. Go into things knowing that breast reconstruction is just that, breast reconstruction. While it is a life-changing experience, its potential for changing how happy you are is limited. Do not expect it to heal relationships or improve upon a shaky self-image.
In summary, take some time to learn all you can about the procedure before moving forward. For more information, visit Breast Reconstruction Associates.