If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, you know that the journey isn't over once the cancer is out. With proper planning, however, reconstructive surgery can be a positive step toward recovery. The important thing is to fully explore all options and find the best one for you. “Before deciding on [a] mastectomy, discuss your options with your board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction,” says Dr. Andrew P. Ordon, F.A.C.S., an aesthetic plastic and reconstructive surgeon with a private practice in New York City. “There are a number of options based on the type of tumor and how aggressive the cancer is, and the stage of the disease. There’s also the option of immediate or delayed reconstruction,” he adds.
There are minimally invasive choices for women who have a less aggressive form of the disease. “Less aggressive tumor types would be candidate for nipple-sparing mastectomy and implant. Also, placement of a tissue expander [that allows] serial skin expansion with eventual placement of a final prosthesis is the most simple and least invasive, but it involves multiple stages."
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If a whole breast is reconstructed, doctors spare no expense to make it look and feel as normal as possible for the patient."With whole breast removal, nipple areola can be reconstructed at a later date using a number of great options taking skin from another part of the body.”
Don't Fear It
Diagnosed or not, Dr. Ordon urges women to not fear breast cancer. “Today’s results with breast reconstruction are better then ever,” he emphasizes. “Breast cancer is a treatable disease when detected early, so don’t ignore any symptoms you’re experiencing out of fear of losing a sensitive part of you.”
Look Good Feel Better, a free support program for cancer patients, recently launched an app that gives users tips and ideas for skin care, make-up, wearing wigs and dressing after a mastectomy. Such support helps patients regain self-esteem and confidence, which is invaluable for a person battling the disease. For more info, go to www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org