For many women losing a breast is one of the harder parts of breast cancer. They may struggle with feelings of loss, feel that their femininity is somehow lessened, or experience lower self-esteem. Every time they look in the mirror they are reminded of their cancer and the huge impact it is having on their life. Some women feel like they no longer know themselves, like their very identities have been stripped away. While this situation isn’t easy for anyone, for many breast reconstruction is an option that can increase self-esteem and help women feel better throughout their breast cancer journey.
Breast Reconstruction and Self-Esteem- What’s the Link?
In a study that focused on interviewing breast cancer survivors, one interviewee noted that her breast reconstruction dramatically improved her self-esteem even though it occurred many years after her breast removal. She says, “I got tired of being two different sizes and so that’s when I had breast reconstruction surgery…. Nobody really noticed it but I did, every time I looked in the mirror.” Researchers have found that breast reconstruction generally does have a positive impact on self-esteem.
Although reconstruction is right for many women, it isn’t the best choice for everyone. The American Cancer Society explains, “Your body image and self-esteem may improve after your reconstruction surgery, but this is not always the case. Some women are not happy with how the reconstructed breast looks and feels after surgery, and there may be concerns about the flap or donor sites too.” Choosing a skilled plastic surgeon is essential if you do opt for reconstruction. Additionally it is wise to educate yourself on the results you can expect so you can determine if you’ll be happy with breast reconstruction. Realistic expectations help patients to be happy with their results.
Getting the Best Results from Breast Reconstruction
Women that do choose breast reconstruction need to select their surgeon carefully. Often breast reconstruction requires multiple surgeries and having a surgeon that will be reliable, informative, and helpful throughout the process can be a big help. The reconstruction process is often an emotional one and having a surgeon that understands what you’re experiencing can make a big difference.
Always choose a qualified plastic surgeon, not just a cosmetic surgeon. Ask to see photos of your surgeon’s work before surgery so you can get a realistic idea of what your reconstructed breast may look like after surgery.
Is Breast Reconstruction Right for Me?
The decision to reconstruct or not is a personal choice, but it is one that every woman should make informed. Before you decide for yourself, meet with a plastic surgeon and find out your options. Dr. Sato loves meeting with breast cancer patients, helping to educate them about reconstruction options and giving them the information they need to make an empowered choice about their bodies. Cancer may have taken away your breast, but it doesn’t take away your opportunity to choose. Whether you have just been diagnosed with breast cancer or had your breast removed years ago, a plastic surgeon can give you the information you need about your reconstruction options.
As you make your breast reconstruction decision rely on information provided by your surgeon, talk with family and those you care about, and turn to some of these wonderful resources about breast reconstruction:
- BRA Day Website – BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day is held every October to help women learn about their reconstruction options. The BRA Day website is packed with information about reconstruction.
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons – The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has created a list of resources for patients about breast reconstruction. This is a great place to learn about the laws regarding breast reconstruction in your state. They also have patient letters from actual reconstruction patients.
- National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet on Breast Reconstruction – Learn about reconstruction and your options with this fact sheet from the National Cancer Institute.
If you’re ready to learn more about breast reconstruction, contact our offices today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Erika Sato.