Mastectomies and Reconstruction

May 28, 2015

From Sandra Lee to Angelina Jolie, mastectomies seem to have been on the rise. Mastectomies may be preventative – genetic testing now allows women to see if they have any genetic mutations that put them at a higher risk for breast cancer. Though typically, most women (and men) have a mastectomy as part of their breast cancer treatment. Mastectomies are either “simple”, where the surgeon removes the entire breast, or modified radical, where the surgeon removes the entire breast as well as specific lymph nodes. There are skin-sparing techniques and nipple sparing techniques, which are important for women who want to have breast reconstruction. After a women undergoes a mastectomy, there are a few different options she may consider regarding what she wants to do with her breasts, if anything.

Some women do not undergo breast reconstruction right away, and they find that this is a very flexible option. They may go breast free, wear prosthetics, or simply choose to undergo breast reconstruction at a later time. Delayed breast reconstruction is common in women who need to undergo radiation therapy even after a mastectomy. However, immediate reconstruction may yield better results, as it is done or started during the mastectomy and the original skin is preserved. There are two types of reconstruction: implant reconstruction, which uses a saline or silicone implant, and flap reconstruction, which takes tissue from another area of the body to create the breast. Undergoing breast reconstruction is all about making women feel happy with their bodies and feel more confident. Some women go a totally different route to do what makes them happy, and they get tattoos on their breasts.

Nipple and areola tattoos are becoming increasingly popular amongst breast cancer survivors, so that these women can maintain a natural look. However, there are those who choose to forget about breast reconstruction and instead turn their bodies into an artistic representation of what they accomplished in the battle against breast cancer. These tattoos are anything but subtle; they are bold and beautiful statements. See the following link for a visual of what I’m describing:

As I mentioned earlier, breast reconstruction is all about assuring that a woman is happy and confident in her body. If a woman is unhappy with the results of her breast reconstruction, she can undergo further surgeries until she is happy with her appearance. It’s possible that in a single mastectomy, the reconstructed breast may be smaller than the breast that was not operated on – in this case, a woman can have her healthy breast reduced in size. The point is the following: do what makes you happy and confident!


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UBCF is committed to offering breast health and wellness services focused on cancer prevention, screening, treatment and overall wellness. UBCF’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of those affected by breast cancer and carries it out through seven life-supporting patient and family programs available to women, men and families nationwide. UBCF never denies services to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, income or medical insurance coverage. Tax-deductible contributions may be made towards UBCF’s programs. UBCF accepts vehicle and property donations as well. Combined Federal Campaign #77934

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