Many women who suffer from breast cancer choose to have a mastectomy (the total removal of one or both breasts) or a lumpectomy (the partial removal of one or both breasts) as part of their treatment. While mastectomies are often the most effective treatment against breast cancer, more often than not, they leave the patient feeling as if she’s lost something precious to her identity as a woman.
Not only does her body feel different because she no longer experiences the weight of her breasts, the removal of the breasts can make her feel self-conscious. She may wonder, “Are people looking at me differently because my chest is flat?” “Am I still attractive even though I don’t have breasts?” “Should I care this much about my breasts at all?”
Each woman must answer these questions for herself. Therapists, plastic surgeons, family members, and friends can help by listening, offering their thoughts when pertinent, and providing support no matter what. At the end of the day, a number of women choose to undergo breast reconstruction because it can restore their sense of beauty and provide a sense that they have “truly beaten cancer.”
In other words, breast reconstruction can help to restore confidence.
There are several options for breast reconstruction, and which option a patient chooses depends on her unique body, diagnosis, and personal preferences. Studies show that women who opt to have reconstruction during the same procedure as their mastectomy experience higher levels of self-confidence than those who do not. However, the most important consideration is choosing a procedure with which the patient feels comfortable and the surgeon approves.
Before breast reconstruction, be sure to take the time to talk with your plastic surgeon about the realities of your new breasts. Plastic surgeons cosmetically recreate the look and feel of the patient’s natural breasts, but because they are not, in fact, your actual breasts, they may feel different to you and take some time getting used to.
After breast reconstruction, most women experience a sense of wholeness and confidence. That said, a number of women also opt out of reconstruction, choosing instead to embrace their new chests as they are. Both options are legitimate. What’s important is to choose what’s best for you.
A number of women cannot afford breast reconstruction after a mastectomy due to breast cancer. Because reconstruction is often a vital step toward rebuilding confidence, we at the AiRS Foundation, offer grants for women to receive this surgery. Are you in need of a grant for reconstruction? It’s easy to apply!