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A n urgent plea for information - To reconstruct or not?

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2001

I am 49years old, have had a large tumour in my breast and just completing my fourth chemotherapy. In a few weeks I will have a mastectomy. I deeply enjoy yoga and meditation practice and need support to make a good decission about whether to do reconstruction or not. I would appreciate hearing from any women like me who chose to do reconstruction or not and how that has been for them.

Posts: 243
Joined: Jun 2001

Hi Shalom,
I have breast cancer and had a lumpectomy only. My adopted mom had bc last year and had a mastectomy with reconstruction. She had the type that had the flap from her abdomen used with the blood vessels rerouted under her skin. The reconstructive site looks really nice, but she still has discomfort in the abdomen. I don't know if that is the norm. She is 61 years old and body image was important to her. I don't know if she would have it again if given the choice. I know others will give you lots of advice and info. I hope that this was helpful. Let us know your decision and how you are doing. Love, Jayne

Posts: 20
Joined: Jul 2001

I had the same procedure in March. The reconstructive site looks great and I do not have abdominal pain at all. She may want to ask her doctor about those pains.

Posts: 931
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi! I'm also 49 and had a mastectomy and reconstruction in Sept. 2000. I had a Treaflap procedure in which they take muscle and tissue from the abdomen and tunnel under the skin up to the breast area and make a breast. No implants necessary. It was a tough procedure but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I have had 2 revisions in order to make a nipple and aerola. Had some things that needed improving ,that's why I had a 2nd revision. Next week, I'm havin the color tatooed on and hopefully, I'm done. The breast looks close to the other side but feels good,soft. As I said, I'd do it again! If you have anyother questions or just want to talk, feel free to e-mail me here or at RPT1206@aol.com. Good luck! Cathy

Posts: 130
Joined: Nov 2000

Hi, I am 47 & had a mastectomy in Dec. 2000. I did not have reconstruction at the time. I felt to overwhelmed to make that decision of what to do. I really did not think it would bother me as much as it does. I have been checking on reconstruction & plan to see about having it in the fall or winter. My husband has been very supportive & says it does not bother him. But it bothers me & that is who I will do it for. That is just my opinion. Good luck with whatever you decide. Make the decision that is what you want not anyone else. Keep us posted on how you are doing. Judy

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

Isn't interesting how we have to decide to have mastectomies let alone then having to decide what we will be comfortable with, some decide reconstrucion. I am 40, 5 year survivor and no reconstruction. I had both eventually done after trying to keep the one healthy breast. Three biopsies later and the second one had to go. After that I just couldn't see myself going through any more surgeries.
I am comfortable with myself and how I look. Unlike most women I didn't have an attachment to these limbs of mine and can understand the turmoil that some go through. Take the time and decide what it is you truly want and how far you want to go to reach that. I can see this being a positive thing since you now can have the size you always wanted. Take this into your consideration. I'm the type who would go big or go home. Just another reason not to.

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Posts: 40
Joined: Jun 2001

I had a friend who did the reconstruction and developed infections that caused her to have to redo the reconsruction. She says she wishes she had waited until she had fully recovered from the surgery, chemo and radiation first because she thinks her health and immune system were not in optimal shape going into the reconstruction.
Also I read somewhere in the many books I've read that one oncologist recommended to his patient that she not do her reconstruction until she got past the five year mark. He told her if a recurrence happened in that breast (and the chances of recurrence decrease dramatically after 5 years) it would be harder to see and treat in a reconstructed breast. These are questions you might want to talk over with your docs. Warmly - Gay

Posts: 52
Joined: May 2001

I too had a large tumor that required chemo prior to the mastectomy. Assume you will have your radiation following the surgery? If so most plastic surgeons and radiation physicians would recommend against having the reconstruction until after radiation. This will give you time to decide for yourself how important the reconstruction is and what is best for you. Radiation can also leave some sub-dermal scar tissue that may dictate the type of reconstruction you can have. Take your time - you can always have the surgery done any time.

I may have mine done in the Spring.

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Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 2001

Hi Bonnie, Thank you for responding to me. I would like to ask you some more questions and have a discussion directly on email as it is much easier for me than using the net. I can't seem to find out how to get your email address. Please can you email me direct. My email address is: mindfulness@xtra.co.nz
Many thanks
blessings Shalom

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2001


I'm 41 and had bilaterial mastectomies in 1997 with reconstruction -- tissue expanders. I was lucky enough not to need chemo or radiation, so had tissue expanders placed at the time of the mastectomies. I had the weekly saline injections into the expanders, and then the expanders replaced with saline implants. I later had aerola & nipple reconstruction. I'm glad I had it done & would do it again. They look normal under clothes, even a swimsuit. They don't look exactly like my breasts did, but they look fairly good without clothes too. I haven't had any problems as long as I massage them daily (just takes a few minutes). I didn't do this at first & ended up with a surgery to remove the scar tissue, but that was really due to my not following doc's orders. I've not had problems since then as I do massage them daily now. The implants are placed underneath the muscle & this makes cancer detecting work well. If you haven't already, go talk to a plastic surgeon. Everyone's body is different & a good plastic surgeon will look at your body & help you decide what method of reconstruction will work best, and when it should be done. Follow your instincts and do what's best for you.

I wish you the best!
Stephanie in Houston

Posts: 20
Joined: Jul 2001

I am 49 years old. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March and I a masectomy and reconstructive surgery immediately following the removal of the breast. I chose to use the tram procedure and I have not regretted it one time. I would highly recommend reconstructive surgery to anyone.

Posts: 16
Joined: Jul 2001

Do your homework...read everything you can on the subject & even interview a couple of plastic surgeons. I am 5'11" and only weigh about 128. I was not a candidate for anything except the saline implants. (there's no extra fat or skin on me!) Most plastic surgeons want to "fix" your remaining good breast to make for a more symmetrical look & that's going to add some to the initial discomfort if you opt for it. I decided not to have reconstruction because I wasn't willing to go through more pain (especially regarding a perfectly good breast), nor was I willing to take the risk of complications. And the women who need reconstruction the most, i.e. mastectomy patients, are three times more likely to experience complications of some kind. The biggest complication is when scar tissue forms around the implant. Since I was small breasted to begin with, I haven't had to buy an expensive prosthesis and wear a bra....I hear you can get back pain from the loss of a breast. When I need to wear something other than a T-shirt, I have a bra that has pockets to hold light-weight foam inserts. It's been three years now & realize I made the best decision for ME. I can't stress enough that you find out everything you can about it, tho. Good luck!

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