Delays after mastectomy don't close the book on breast reconstruction
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Though breast reconstructions are more common than ever before (thanks in part to legislation mandating their coverage by insurance providers), this availability can occasionally feel a bit overwhelming. What if a woman is unsure about getting an immediate reconstruction after cancer? Does waiting for months or years eventually whittle down her options?
According to Dr. Carlos Wolf, the answer is no. Responding to a reader's inquiry in the Miami Herald, he wrote that it is every cancer survivor's right to wait as long as she likes before electing to have her breasts reconstructed.
In fact, delaying a reconstruction hardly reduces a woman's options at all, he explained.
After a time, many possibilities remain
Wolf noted that being diagnosed with cancer and then facing a mastectomy can make life seem totally topsy-turvy. "Many patients are just too freaked out to think of anything but survival at the time," he wrote to his reader, who has waited five years beyond her mastectomy to consider getting her chest resculpted.
Such worries, combined with the offer of an immediate breast reconstruction, can give some patients the impression that the procedure is time-sensitive, that the window for getting a reconstruction will soon close.
This could hardly be further from the truth, Wolf wrote.
He emphasized that no matter how long it has been since a woman's mastectomy, many surgical choices are open to her. As examples, Wolf pointed to delayed reconstructions that utilize either silicone-filled implants or a patient's own tissue.
Within each of these categories, too, lie dozens of different operations, some of which may be more inviting to a cancer survivor than others. Wolf noted that even a non-affected breast can be tucked or augmented to match reconstructed tissue.
Clearly, plenty of patients are excited about such procedures, since a record 96,000 U.S. women pursued breast reconstruction last year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Wolf C. Plenty of options after breast cancer surgery. Miami Herald. May 22, 2012. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/22/2810955/plenty-of-options-after-breast.html" rel="no_follow">http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/22/2810955/plenty-of-options-after-breast.html Accessed June 4, 2012.
2011 Reconstructive Demographics. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2011. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2011-statistics/2011-reconstructive-procedures-trends-statistics.pdf" rel="no_follow">http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Documents/news-resources/statistics/2011-statistics/2011-reconstructive-procedures-trends-statistics.pdf Accessed June 4, 2012.
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