If you've recently been scheduled for your partial mastectomy (or "lumpectomy") following a diagnosis of breast cancer, you may be worried not only about your health, but your appearance following surgery. Although lumpectomies are designed to preserve as much healthy breast tissue as possible while eliminating all cancer cells, the removal of medium or large masses may leave a telltale scar or dimple. What can you do to regain your original appearance -- and when should you schedule your reconstruction? Read on to learn more about the reconstructive options available to you after you've fully healed from your lumpectomy surgery.
When should you seek breast reconstruction following a partial mastectomy?
For most early stage breast cancers, a lumpectomy will be scheduled before a course of radiation or chemotherapy is ordered. This allows your surgeon to remove as much of the cancer as possible as quickly as possible, then uses radiation or powerful chemotherapy drugs to kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent the cancer from spreading. This process can take some time, and it's important to allow your body to heal from this tough regimen before seeking any reconstructive surgery.
Undergoing breast augmentation or repair will require being put under general anesthesia and performing self-care at home until you've fully healed. Because radiation and chemotherapy can impact your body's immune system, making it harder for you to fight infection, you'll want to ensure you've regained most of your strength and your immune system has begun to rebuild itself before you undergo your reconstructive surgery.
What are your best breast reconstruction options?
Once you've recovered from your partial mastectomy and your radiation or chemotherapy regimen, there are a few different reconstruction options available to you. The first is the placement of a small saline implant in the lumpectomy site. These implants are made from a surgical-grade plastic and harmless saline, ensuring they won't cause you any health problems even in the unlikely event of an implant rupture. For those recovering from cancer, a saline implant may be the safest choice.
A silicone implant may also be a good option. These implants briefly took a backseat to saline implants after a temporary moratorium was issued on silicone implants -- however, the "new" silicone gel is safer than ever before and provides a very lifelike look and feel. These implants may be a better choice for those who have an odd-shaped dimple or lump in the affected breast that may be difficult to match with a saline implant.
For breast implants, contact an organization such as Newport Center for Special Surgery.