Undergoing breast reconstruction can often be a frightening and stressful experience, an experience that can be made even more difficult by the inaccurate and misleading information that amasses on the internet. I believe that the best way to overcome fear is through understanding, and I make it a point to keep my patients as informed as possible during every stage of any reconstructive or cosmetic plastic surgery procedure that I perform. I have put together this list of common myths about breast reconstruction in the hope that it may shed some light and put a few of your questions and concerns to rest.
MYTH: Breast reconstruction is only performed to restore the breasts of women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer.
FACT: Breast reconstruction can address a number of issues, including trauma and congenital issues like Poland’s Syndrome. Moreover, although breast cancer disproportionately impacts women, men still suffer from the disease and do receive mastectomies. They qualify for breast reconstruction surgery as well, though some may not pursue it because they don’t realize it’s an option.
MYTH: Breast reconstruction must take place immediately after my mastectomy.
FACT: There is actually no “right time” to undergo breast reconstruction. Many patients undergoing breast cancer treatment may want to wait until after they have completed radiation, as radiation can limit your options and affect the final result, while others aren’t certain they want breast reconstruction at all and wait months or even years before having surgery. Many women, however, do choose to have breast reconstruction immediately after they have their mastectomy. The timing of your reconstruction should be up to you and your physician.
MYTH: Having breast reconstruction means that I have to have breast implants.
FACT: Breast implants are merely one of several different reconstruction options. In fact, a highly-specialized technique, developed by Atlanta Plastic Surgery co-founder Dr. Carl Hartrampf, is the TRAM flap method, which uses the patient’s own abdominal fat, muscle, and skin to reconstruct a breast that maintains its own natural blood supply. Further developments on this procedure include the DIEP flap method (which utilizes only fat and skin, but no abdominal muscle) and the latissimus dorsi flap method (which uses tissue from the back). Each of these methods, as well as the use of implants or expanders, has specific advantages and limitations, so I make it a point to discuss all the options in detail with my patients so that we can determine which course is best for them.
MYTH: Breast reconstruction will make my breasts look unnatural.
FACT: Advancements in breast reconstruction techniques and technology make it possible to achieve balanced and natural-looking results. For example, I use the Vectra® 3D Imaging system during consultation to give my patients detailed, high resolution photos of the possible outcomes using various methods and options, so that we can choose a course that will have the highest likelihood of producing the most aesthetically pleasing breast reconstruction results. While many patients may decide to have their breasts reconstructed at the same size as pre-mastectomy, others opt for smaller or larger breasts, or to have a breast lift, or mastopexy, to alleviate the sagging that can occur with age. .
MYTH: Breast reconstruction makes it harder to detect a breast cancer recurrence.
FACT: There is no evidence that breast reconstruction procedures have any impact on cancer detection. The risk that an individual patient’s cancer could recur depends on a range of factors, including the stage of the disease and biological characteristics of the cancer. There are several different types of exams and screenings that can be performed, and the specifics of your reconstruction and your personal risk or recurrence may dictate exactly what you will need.
If you are interested in breast reconstruction, or any other plastic surgery procedure that I perform, please contact me, Dr. Allyson Maske, to schedule a consultation today. Additionally, many reconstructive procedures may be covered by insurance, and Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. provides a variety of options for financing, including Care Credit®, in order to assist you. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest plastic surgery news and updates.