If replacing your breasts is simply not that important to you, or you want to avoid further surgery or the complications you may have heard about from other women, you may feel that going “flat” is your best personal alternative. Conversely, you may be adamant that for you, rebuilding your breasts is essential.
Asking people about breast reconstruction is like politics: everyone has an opinion. Women who are frustrated and disappointed with their results may recommend against reconstruction, while others enthusiastically recommend the same procedure based on their own satisfied experiences. The input of others can be helpful, but realize that someone else’s experience won’t necessarily be yours, and that her choice may not be the best solution for you.
Knowledge about reconstruction is growing, but too many women still go into mastectomy unaware of their options. Some physicians don’t discuss post-mastectomy options because their knowledge about various options is limited, they assume certain patients aren’t interested, or they consider reconstruction to be “unnecessary.” Others may tell you what to do, rather than helping you to understand your choices and encouraging you to make your own decision. It’s unlikely that any surgeon can tell you everything you need to know about breast reconstruction within the confines of two or three office visits; that’s why it’s up to you to learn about your alternatives, which include but aren’t limited to breast implants (which most people know about).
Making the right choice can be confusing and overwhelming, especially when friends, family or physicians try to steer you towards reconstruction or away from it. It helps to keep a few important factors in mind:
- All surgery has the potential for complications.
- Problems don’t always occur; when they do, they can usually be fixed (which may or may not require additional surgery).
- Problems are more likely with some reconstructive procedures than others.
- Not all surgeons perform all procedures.
- All reconstructive options have benefits and limitations. No single procedure is right for everyone.
- A surgeon’s skill and experience greatly affects an individual’s results.
As women, we’re all different, with decidedly different opinions about what is right or wrong for each of us. Some of us feel the breast reconstruction journey is worth the effort, and that’s just fine. Others consider it needless, and that’s also fine.
Whether or not to reconstruct is a profoundly personal decision that should be made with sufficient and accurate information. Learning about your options gives you the power of choice: the choice to say yes or no to breast reconstruction. You may discover that it can give you better breasts than you expected, or you may find that it requires more than you’re willing to go through. Either way, you’ll know that you’ve made an informed decision that is best for you.