When it comes to breast reconstruction after mastectomy, timing is very important.
While many people advocate and encourage immediate reconstruction – reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy surgery – it is not always feasible and advisable.
One major determinant of the timing of reconstructive breast surgery is the stage of the breast cancer. In stage I or stage II breast cancer, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other targeted therapies may not be necessary after the mastectomy. In such cases, it is advisable that immediate reconstruction be performed. However, in stage III or stage IV breast cancer, delaying the reconstruction is often advised because radiation therapy and chemotherapy are usually needed. Reconstructive breast surgery usually requires extra healing time; therefore, radiation therapy or chemotherapy will be unduly delayed.
Another problem that arises if immediate reconstruction is performed in the presence of stage III or stage IV breast cancer is that radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other targeted therapies tend to cause a reconstructed breast to lose volume, change in color and texture, and inevitably, cause undesirable changes to its overall appearance. This means that having such therapies after reconstruction will defeat the very purpose of the reconstruction.
Hence, surgeons advise their patients to wait until radiation and chemotherapy are finished before having their breast reconstruction.
Your overall health is another factor that largely determines the timing of the your breast reconstruction. In the presence of diabetes, a circulatory disorder, a bleeding problem, or other comorbidities, you will likely be first advised to recover completely from your mastectomy before having the reconstruction. Therefore, the timing of your reconstructive breast surgery is now dependent on your healing time. The general rule is that the more conditions you have that are hindering your body from experiencing complete healing, the longer time you would have to wait before having your reconstruction surgery.
Do take note that the timing of your reconstructive breast surgery is a delicate matter, and it is something that needs to be discussed not only by you and your breast surgeon. It is a matter that needs to be discussed together with other doctors and professionals as well. Other professionals who are also part of the team are the plastic surgeon, the radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, and caregivers.
If you would like to get in touch with a breast surgeon today regarding the best timing for your reconstructive breast surgery, contact Breast Reconstruction Associates.
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