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Houston Breast Reconstruction And Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is breast cancer awareness month across the nation, and with the level of public awareness at an all time high the hope is to prevent as many cases of breast cancer as possible by detecting problems early.  Therefore, all women should perform a monthly self-breast exam with the ideal time to do so following the menstrual cycle.  Women age 40 and up should begin having mammograms as directed by their physician in addition to monthly self-exams.  Unfortunately, despite medicine’s best efforts to eliminate the devastating effects of breast cancer, science and physicians don’t always hit the mark.  The United States has 2.5 million breast cancer survivors, and thousands have had the misfortune of having undergone a mastectomy in order to save their lives or improve their chances for survival.  Though the goal of a mastectomy is to eradicate cancer cells from the body, the surgery can leave scars on a woman’s self-image and psyche in addition to her chest.  There are cancer survivors who consider having breast reconstruction so that they may feel better about themselves.  Plastic surgeons are able to create a new breast, and this can be one of the most rewarding procedures a plastic surgeon performs because breast reconstruction has substantially improved breast cancer survivor’s quality of life by improving her self-image.  Breast reconstruction usually produces a relatively natural-looking breast that is an improvement over prostheses, but breast cancer survivors should be aware that the reconstructed breast would never look or feel exactly like their own breast that was removed.  Therefore, a plastic surgeon will spend a considerable amount of time discussing what realistic expectations include, in addition to collaborating with the patient’s oncologist if she is still undergoing treatment.  Today breast cancer survivors have a choice in how to approach breast reconstruction:  they may either begin the procedure at the same time as the mastectomy, or postpone breast reconstruction until they recover from the mastectomy and/or recover from other breast cancer treatments like chemotherapy.  Just like breast cancer and treatment is an emotional adjustment, the patient should expect some level of emotional adjustment in preparing for and following breast reconstruction surgery.

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