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Reconstruction or not ??

Posts: 7
Joined: Mar 2001

i am new to this group and this is my first message. I was just diagnosed and has scheduled a mastectomy this coming Monday. At this point, i don't know if chemo or radiation is needed. I am 43 years old with 2 children, 15 & 11 years old. I need to make a decision whether to have the implant or not TODAY. My hubby will give me great support no matter what i choose. For the last week, i have already decided NOT to have any reconstruction. But my surgeon keeps telling me woman my age should have one, and i will be happier with the implant. The meeting with the plastic surgeon goes well, and she gives me an impression that this is a breeze. I really can't decide. Can you help me ?
My biggest concern with the implant is that i may have to 'do something' 10 years later as my remaining breast starts sagging. Will it feel cold to the body ? i know it will when touching it. The thought of foreign object in my body also bothers me.
I also visited a prostheses store and see what is available. The idea of having all this 'tools' to make my everyday life normal also bothers me. I don't think i have problem facing my own body without any reconstruction, but i still want it to look normal to other people.
Please help me, share with me what you have experienced.

BTW, i need to decide now because i probably need radiation and the option of implant may not be avaiable anymore depending how my skin reacts to the radiation. If you have radiation and then have delayed reconstruction, i would like to hear from you too.
This is a great group, i spent the last week trying to read as more message as i can.


Posts: 160
Joined: Nov 2000

Hi Ann - You came to the right place if you are looking for opinions on something like this. I am 57 years old and had a masectomy last May - I had 4 AC chemo treatments and my hair has just grown back.
I did not have the reconstruction - I just could not think of having another surgery. And, I felt that I was past the age of needing the reconstruction. If I were in my 30's - I would definitely consider it - but not at my age. Your age is debatable - but if it were me, I would still say no. I have been fitted up with the prosthesis and the proper pocket bras. I have no problem with it at all - I even fixed up my bathing suit - put a pocket in it and my prosthesis fits in there quite well. No one can tell by looking at me that I have a prosthesis. My husband just told me the other day as he brushed apast me and his body touched mine, that it feels just like the other one. That makes me feel very good. And, I was surprised that your body still has a cleavage with the prosthesis.
I hope this helps you in some way and I wish you lots of luck with your final decision.
God Bless - Lucy

Posts: 39
Joined: Apr 2001

Dear Ann,
Want to welcome you to the group. Far as Implants goes I cant tell you cause I did not need a mastectomy. The Doctor said it was not necessary for me to have the whole breast off. But I feel you should do what you feel comfortable with.
Your in my prayers. Take care and God Bless.
Many hugs Leanne

carolh's picture
Posts: 19
Joined: Jul 2000

Hello Ann: Decisions, decisions! For what it's worth, here is my experience.

I had a mastectomy September 1999 and wore a prosthesis until recently. After much deliberation I decided to have my other breast removed as well and have a double TRAM-flap reconstruction. This was done three weeks ago and I am now at home on the road to recovery. It has been extremely uncomfortable, but I have no regrets (besides, my stomach hasn't been this flat since I was 11!). Like you, I didn't like the idea of something "foreign" being implanted. My husband tells me they feel like the real thing, but they do look a bit odd without nipples! (they will come later). I decided to have an elective mastectomy after a suspicious mammogram last year - which proved to be benign, but "let's keep an eye on it" ... so I decided I was better off without it.

Like many of the decisions we all have to make on this breast cancer journey, it comes down to your personal choice. Go with your gut instincts and do what feels right for you.

P.S. I'm not sure age has a lot to do with it, either. I understand women in their 60's or even 70's go for reconstruction. I'm 56.

Posts: 682
Joined: Feb 2001


Hi Ann,

My personal opinion is that I would never put an implant in my body after cancer, but that is my feeling. Remember the plastic surgeon has to make a living too!

Check out the URL above which shows pictures of reconstruction etc. Remember you can ALWAYS change your mind until you are under anesthesia and on the operating table. Don't be intimidated by "the decision must be made TODAY!!"

Good luck. Jean

Posts: 292
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi Ann, welcome to the family!!
I am 32 years old and had a mastectomy last january. I could not have immediate recon as it was looking pretty serious and I would have had to make a trip to a different city for the surgery, so I had the mastec a few days after diag. I am going to have recon. My idea is to have the other breast removed and have a double recon. It is called a Diep flap, they use the fat from the tummy and pull it up to form breasts, unlike a tram flap, there is no muscle involvement,therefore lower risk of hernia. you can check it out at www.diepflap.com
Even if you have an implant they usually do a small surgery on the other breast to raise it so it is not saggier than the new one. Have they given you the option of tissue expanders? They slowly over a course of a few weeks insert saline into your skin to expand the tissue to form a breast, again ,they will lift the other breast if necc to make it look normal.
Good luck and do not decide in haste!! Make a well informed, comfortable decision.
I am sure a couple more days of deliberation is not going to be a life or death thing.
Hugs from Tiger

Posts: 292
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi again Ann, something I did forget to tell you is that I do wear a prosthetic, but only in "t-shirt" weather. It is big and heavy and a real pain in the butt!! I am currently a size 42dd, as I have put on weight with the chemo, but will go back down again when I finish chemo and loose weight. I am usually a 40d. smaller breasted women may not have such a problem as their 'boob' will be lighter.

pamtriggs's picture
Posts: 407
Joined: Sep 2000

Dear Ann
Welcome to the group. You sure will get a lot of opinions here. We are very good at putting in our bit. I had a radical mastectomy 20 years ago when first Dx. I am now in recurrence. I decided not to have a reconstruction for three reasons. I was not happy about another surgery & all the diepflap & tram flaps were not available in 1981. I did not feel comfortable with the thought of a foreign object in my body and by the time I could have a reconstruction (6 months after the original mastectomy in those days) I was comfortable with my body image again & my husband certainly wasn't concerned. I have found no problems ( and I am a big lady (40D) and no one has ever realised I have a mastectomy unless I choose to tell them. I have found the prosthesis & special bras to be very comfortable & I even have a special one for under night wear so I look normal in a night gown. But ultimately you must make the decision for yourself. If you are not totally comfortable with a reconstruction straight away don't do it. You can always have it done later. God luck with whatever you decide. Love Pam

Posts: 931
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi Ann.Welcome! I had a mastectomy and Tram Flap recon. in Sept. last year. My Plastic Surgeon didn't really give me a choice of recon. He just told me he preferred this type of recon. I know some women can't have a Tram Flap due to previous abdominal surgery. I'm glad I did it although I'm always aware of my abdominal area.The recon. breast feels like a real boob to touch although it's numb and will never get normal sensation. I had the nipple put on in Feb. and I must say I liked the way it looked better without the nipple but the MD says it will con't to look more normal. The decision is yours and no one can tell you what you should do. It's your body and you must be happy with it. Good luck with your surgery. I'll be praying for you. Cathy

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

I had one mastectomy, even though I wanted both gone it was advised against it because of the trauma to the body. I walked around with one breast and felt like it stuck out like a sore thumb. Had more surgeries and finally had the second one removed on the forth lump. I chose not to have reconstructive, just more surgery for me. I think this is a difficult thing for most women. Not to many women don't have some attachment to their femaleness, if it were a word. I heard a doctor say that in most, MOST cases a few weeks to take to wrap your brain around it is not going to make that big of a difference. My own doctor wanted me to be sure of my decision. In my case I had to think about one problem at a time, one breast at a time. It turned out to be the best advice since I blood infection would of been twice as bad had I had both breast removed. I took a few days and became clear about what it was I had to do for me.
Our hearts are with you,

Posts: 7
Joined: Mar 2001

Thanks to everyone who replies to my message. i had the mastectomy done last Monday, and had the drains removed yesterday. I went with my original decision, and didn't do any reconstruction. I told the surgeon that i didn't want any reconstruction at all. I am very happy with my decision. I have no problem facing my new body.

I have another question and will ask in the next message.

Take care everyone.


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