Breast Reconstruction Surgery represents a decision that must be personally made by every breast cancer survivor. Deciding not to have it would be a life-changing decision. This month we bring you some common misconceptions about breast reconstruction surgery. If you or someone you love is facing breast cancer and an important decision about breast reconstruction, then please consider the following myths.
What is a myth? One definition for “myth,” given by the Oxford Dictionary, tells us that a myth is “a widely held but false belief or idea…” Indeed, there are many myths associated with breast reconstruction surgery.
These myths or misconceptions become more iron-clad year by year. Thus, Altiora Plastic Surgery & Medspa, thinks it’s time to set the record straight. So we dedicate this blog to breast reconstruction truth.
In this blog, we defy several well-held believes from common assumptions that have no basis in truth.
Seeking Truth Beyond Surgery: Life After Breast Cancer
Recently Jessica Hsu, M.D., Ph.D., and Paige Myers, M.D. are plastic surgeons at Michigan Medicine. They have dispelled many such untruths. And Altiora agrees with them. We think it is heart-breaking that these popular misconceptions about breast reconstruction might prevent a woman from enjoying the benefits of this intimately important surgery.
“Breast reconstruction is the process of making a new breast after a woman has had her breast removed due to breast cancer.” This procedure is a medical, surgical, technical, and artistic accomplishment in the hands of a skilled, experienced surgeon.
It also involves open and excellent communication between the surgeon and the patient. They must both have a deep, clear understanding of the patient’s goals and expectations for the breast reconstruction and life beyond it.
Breast Reconstruction Myths: The Number 1 Biggest Lie Regarding Breast Reconstruction
Doctors Hsu and Myers list as the first myth, the pervasive idea that breast reconstruction is a cosmetic procedure.
Truth Number 1: Breast reconstruction is much more than a cosmetic procedure. Dr. Myers stated, “Clinical and patient-reported outcomes have shown it’s so much more than a cosmetic procedure.” She added, “There is a mind-body connection of restoring form and function that is fascinating.”
Likewise, many studies have proven this surgery gives the breast cancer patient a better quality of life and psychosocial well-being.
Truth Number 2: The Second of Popular Breast Reconstruction Myths
The misconception is that a woman might think she is not a candidate for natural tissue breast reconstruction because she is small and slim. She thinks she does not have the tissue to spare.
At Altiora, we reassure believers of this myth by educating them about the procedure. It is true surgeons most commonly build the breast mound with tissue from the abdomen. However, surgeons can take tissue from other parts of the body. This might be good news for you: Surgeons can also use tissue from the thighs or the buttocks.
This procedure is a great option for women who want to have a feminine curve to their physique but dislike the idea of implants.
Truth Number 3: Facts about Patients with Previous Abdominal Surgery:
Did you know you can often have abdominally based breast reconstruction despite old abdominal surgeries? It is only a myth that previous abdominal surgery blocks abdominally based natural tissue breast reconstruction.
Many women just assume that because a previous “C-section or abdominal surgery might damage the abdominal area, they can’t have natural tissue breast reconstruction using abdominal tissue.”
Get Your Personalized Facts on Breast Mound Building
Dr. Myers refutes this myth. explaining, “Abdominal tissue can often be used despite previous surgery to the region…” The reason this is true is that many surgeons of minor abdominal surgeries spare the blood vessels that supply the skin and fat. The reconstructive breast surgeon needs exactly those vessels, skin, and fat to build a new breast mound. Thus, do not make assumptions about your breast reconstruction based on common myths. Be certain to discuss your personal medical history and concerns with your plastic surgeon.
Our Truth Number 4: Instant Decisions about Breast Reconstruction Myths
At Altiora, we have discovered many women think they need to have breast reconstruction immediately after cancer surgery. We do not agree. This common misconception makes patients believe that we can only do breast reconstruction within a certain time frame. So untrue. There is not an expiration date on creating a bustline for a cancer patient.
Dr. Myers from University of Michigan Health states that “insurance covers breast reconstruction after mastectomy at any time in a woman’s life.”
Likewise, we state on our special page about breast reconstruction, “Breast reconstruction can be performed months or even years after a woman has already undergone a mastectomy. This is known as delayed reconstruction. But in many cases, the process of breast reconstruction can be started at the time of mastectomy. This is known as immediate reconstruction.”
Patients at Altiora make this choice only after a detailed consultation with Dr. Orlando Cicilioni. We make sure you are aware of all your options.
Best of All Possible Options
Dr. Myers also shared that “Some patients may want to have natural tissue reconstruction but are hesitant to undergo more involved surgery after a mastectomy.” She explains that “those women can opt for implant-based reconstruction with a quicker recovery and revisit their options down the road.” This often surprises the patient.
She says, “If they’re candidates, they can have implants immediately after their mastectomy, and when it’s a better time in their life, they can return for natural tissue reconstruction later,” she says.
Our Truth, Number 5: Radiation Does Not Always Block Reconstruction.
Patients often believe that they cannot have reconstruction because of the soft tissue changes after radiation. We say radiation makes some procedures more difficult. However, it is a misconception to believe it flatly denies you an option.
That being said, we agree with Dr. Myers that “Generally, natural tissue reconstruction surgery, with or without implants, is the best option for patients who have had radiation.”
Once again, we have learned over the last 25 years that every case is different. And patients must not judge their circumstances by the common myths.
Breast Reconstruction Myths Number Six: Do not Despair–You Can Have a Matched Pair.
In cases of single mastectomy (removal of one breast,) it is surprising how many patients continue to believe that their surgeon will not be able to match the other side.
In fact, this misconception causes much anxiety. Some women never pursue breast reconstruction because of this erroneous myth. In difficult cases, the truth is many insurance companies include revision of the other breast to create normal symmetry.
The true secret of the breast reconstruction option resides in our true individualization of your case. We firmly believe we must be aware of each patient’s goals and expectations. This begins with your very first consultation here at Altiora. And now that you know about these misconceptions, perhaps you can help us to dispel the 6 Biggest Myths of Breast Reconstruction Surgery.