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Considering Immediate Breast Reconstruction?

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Considering Immediate Breast Reconstruction?
June 23
16:55 2017

Article Highlights

  • Only a very small portion of women get breast reconstruction, and even fewer get an immediate breast reconstruction
  • Many patients get terrified when they are told they have cancer and don’t think much about reconstruction, or feel overwhelmed to consider reconstruction
  • Combining the mastectomy and reconstruction means she needs one less surgery

You may constantly be bombarded with options after breast cancer, making it difficult to face the facts. In 2013, approximately 65 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer daily. While Angelina Jolie had breast reconstruction after a preventative mastectomy, many women diagnosed with cancer would not consider this option.

“Only a very small portion of women get breast reconstruction, and even fewer get an immediate breast reconstruction. That needs to change,” said Dr. Martin Jugenburg, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Humber River Regional Hospital and Toronto Cosmetic Surgery Clinic.

Dr. Jugenburg is renowned for breast reconstruction, providing women who have undergone a mastectomy with breasts that feel and look natural. He is convinced it’s not the surgery that scares patients, but the misconception that it can prevent the detection of cancer recurrence. He also clarified that women are unaware that this surgery is available and that it is covered by provincial health programs and insurance companies in the U.S.

“Many patients get terrified when they are told they have cancer and don’t think much about reconstruction, or feel overwhelmed to consider reconstruction,” Dr. Jugenburg said.

Dr. Jugenburg explained the importance of considering immediate breast reconstruction and suggested speaking with the doctor handling your mastectomy.

“First, because it’s immediate, a woman doesn’t need to go through a time period when she has no breasts. Second, combining the mastectomy and reconstruction means she needs one less surgery. And third, the cosmetic outcome of an immediate reconstruction looks better than a delayed one.”

This type of breast reconstruction may have a lot of benefits, but it also requires the coordination of your plastic surgeon with the breast surgery oncologist that will perform the mastectomy.

According to Dr. Jugenburg, a consultation with your doctor is required to discuss your goals and possible options for breast reconstruction. The schedule of your surgery will depend on whether you will have a delayed breast reconstruction or an immediate one. Your plastic surgeon will then carefully plan the procedure and recovery process. Breast reconstruction may be performed using your own tissues or breast implants.

“The choice of implant versus using your own tissues depends on patient’s preferences, her existing body and overall health,” Dr. Jugenburg clarified.

He explained that women who have had breast reconstruction using their body tissues usually stay at the hospital for a few days. It is a much more multifaceted surgery and possible complications can be quite serious. Yet upon full and proper recuperation, patients are unlikely to require further procedures. According to Dr. Jugenburg, some larger flap reconstruction may take several months before patients are feeling back to normal again.

Implants are safer and simpler in the short term but may require future maintenance, unlike flap breast reconstruction. With this type of procedure, the patient may go home the same day of the operation, or the following day.

“Breast reconstruction, like any surgery, can have potential complications from complete failure of the surgery—which requires a repeat reconstruction—to minor problems that require only a touch up procedure,” Dr. Jugenburg mentioned, at same time emphasizing the importance of taking care of your breasts after surgery.

Although sunbathing does not affect the reconstructed breasts, Dr. Jugenburg encourages his patients to avoid the sun or, at least, use proper sun protection to minimize the visibility of the scars after they heal completely. During pregnancy, reconstructed breast don’t change in size. They don’t contain breast tissues susceptible to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy.

Dr. Jugenburg’s goal is to increase the number of women considering breast reconstruction after mastectomy. He believes this surgery will help them get rid of the reminders of their battle with cancer and be able to move on with their lives.

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