In the U. S., an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 women have mastectomies each year. Only about 30 percent of those women have breast reconstruction surgery—for a variety of reasons. But lack of information shouldn’t be one of them. UR Medicine expert Dr. Howard Langstein shares five things women should know about reconstructive surgery as they consider their options.
- It takes time. Breast reconstruction is a process and that means it may require more than one surgery. This may seem daunting when you are facing mastectomy surgery. Consulting with a reconstructive surgeon before your mastectomy is a good way to see the full picture and determine if, and when, it may be right for you.
- It’s not “one size fits all.” Not all reconstructive surgeries are right for all patients. While it’s often helpful to learn about other women’s experiences, yours may be very different based on your individual situation. There are many variations in reconstructive procedures. A good surgeon will tailor yours to your personal needs, desires and expectations.
- Keep an open mind. Mastectomy is major surgery and you may think it’s all you can manage. Be open-minded enough to learn about your options and to consider the possibility that what you think you might want may not wind up being your best choice.
- It’s not for everyone. Breast reconstruction after mastectomy isn’t the right choice for every woman. But learning about it in order to make an informed decision is something every woman should consider. There are pros and cons and many options and you should know them all.
- Find your match. Identifying the right surgeon and team to provide your care is the key to being happy with the results of your reconstruction. Your surgeon should spend at least an hour in an initial consultation with you, and may meet with you multiple times before you make any decisions. You should feel comfortable and confident about your decision.
Learn more about breast reconstruction in this video:
Howard Langstein, M.D., is UR Medicine’s chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. A renowned expert, he is skilled in all aspects of breast reconstruction from implant-based procedures to complex microsurgical solutions.