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Breast Cancer, Grief And Breast Reconstruction

Some women who undergo treatment for breast cancer must have a mastectomy (removal of one or both breasts) in addition to chemotherapy, radiation, and/or complimentary treatments.  Sadly, what many of us fail to realize (the patient included) is that there is a certain amount of grief that not only goes with a cancer diagnosis, but also with losing one’s breast.  For some reason, the loss of the breast seems to go by the wayside, but this is just as traumatic a loss as the solider who loses an arm or a leg.  It takes time for women to adjust to that loss and process the emotions that go along with it.  Breast cancer survivors are unique in their medical history and in their desires for the future.  Some women feel confident about moving forward in their lives following the mastectomy without making a permanent, cosmetic change.  Other women may feel uncomfortable with the changes to their bodies and feel both literally and figuratively unbalanced.  Plastic surgery techniques are constantly evolving so that breast cancer survivors have more choices than ever in how to move on in their lives.  For women who want to restore their physique to it’s pre-mastectomy form, breast reconstruction through plastic surgery is a viable option.  This decision need not be made immediately, and most plastic surgeons would urge the patient to give herself time to heal and contemplate her options.  Fortunately, women have the option of having breast reconstruction very close in time to the mastectomy or they may wait for a time in the future that is better.  Not only is it possible to reconstruct a breast, but it is also possible to reconstruct the nipple.  Your plastic surgeon will be very candid about what is aesthetically and physiologically possible and not possible.  For instance, despite breast reconstruction surgery, the patient’s breast will never look exactly like the original breast or the other remaining breast, nor will the reconstructed breast or nipple have the same sensations, since nerves cells cannot be replaced there.  At the Eisemann Cosmetic Surgery Center, we understand breast cancer on both a medical and personal level, and we pride ourselves in doing all that we can to make a breast cancer survivor’s experience with surgery the best it can be.

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