Breast cancer: I had a mastectomy and no breast reconstruction. Am I still in time?

The question that gives this short article its title is not uncommon. Often, in consultation, I am confronted with patients who, for one reason or another, have chosen not to undergo Breast Reconstruction. The main reasons are lack of medical information, lack of access to a plastic surgeon or lack of empathy and/or trust.

Breast Reconstruction after Breast Cancer can be performed at the time of cancer surgery or afterwards. This is a joint decision, made in consultation with your Plastic Surgeon who will monitor the whole process and draw up the treatment plan that best suits your clinical situation.

Obviously, and knowing that oncological surgery always takes priority over reconstruction, some fears arise: “Could reconstruction increase the risk of breast cancer? Will surgery become longer and more dangerous? I’ve heard that the use of implants is associated with breast diseases.” All these fears, combined with the less successful results of reconstructive surgeries 20-30 years ago, have cast a dark cloud over the subject of “Breast Reconstruction”, at a time and in a circumstance when patients are vulnerable.

In an attempt to briefly answer some of these myths, there is no age limit for breast reconstruction. It’s personal and should be done when the patient feels comfortable. There are various techniques that can be adapted to each surgical timing chosen. In my professional experience, I have performed reconstructions on patients under 30 and over 70. Each case is rewarding in its own way, and the importance of creating a breast has a tremendous psychological and social impact, contributing greatly to improving quality of life.

There are more and less intense surgical techniques, all of which are associated with risks, although, given the evolution of medicine and plastic surgery, most are in a safe range with broad and clear benefits. Techniques can, and should, be adapted to patients. Although breast reconstruction is the goal for every patient, simpler techniques in selected cases are often ideal, and patient satisfaction is guaranteed in almost all cases.

The benefits of breast reconstruction are indisputable. Although many of the marks will remain forever, they are softened and demonstrate a struggle won. The reflection in the mirror has the power to show a pathology or a winning process, and Plastic Surgery has the power and privilege to help patients with this body remodeling.

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