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Mastectomy vs Reconstruction

Cory51Cory51 Member Posts: 71
I am nearing the end of chemotherapy and am faced with the decision as to whether to have a mastectomy or mastectomy plus reconstruction. I have started to gather data about the recon as initially I was sure I did not want one, that I would be OK with a mastectomy. As my mind starts to clear from chemo I realised that my initial decision was based on shock of diagnosis, fear and wanting to just finish everything as quickly as possible (I will also need radiation). Now I realise that this decision was made in haste and without good information about how I would feel in the long term about both options. Initially I also thought well I am 67, why do I need a recon?? Now I am thinking why not and I need more information to decide. I have seen a breast fitter so have that perspective in terms of breast forms/bras etc and have an appt to see a plastic surgeon in a few weeks. Any thoughts anyone has about either option would be much appreciated... Jenny


  • Rose18Rose18 Member Posts: 87
    edited December 2018
    Hi @Cory51get all of your options written down from your surgeon, including the costs (total including anaesthetist), the length of surgery and recovery and the possible complications. You can also ask them about their success rate with each procedure. Then sit down and think about what outcome you want. Radiotherapy can have an impact on reconstruction so just check with them about that as well.

    Get a second opinion or two! I also google the name of the doctor with problems/ complaints after it just to check. Always remember to ask questions. I’ve had reconstruction but had to wait 2 years to have it due to radiotherapy damage. I’m glad I waited. Have you joined one of the reconstruction groups? All the best. There’s no wrong or right and there’s time. 
  • Cory51Cory51 Member Posts: 71
    Thanks Rose18. I have some of those questions on my list but not all. I haven't seen a reconstruction group, is that on BCNA website or generally elsewhere. 
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 2,874
    Hi @Cory51
    I had a mastectomy and no reconstruction at 67. I don't think a decision has much to do with age at all.  I'm as conscious of my body as I always was, for me it was more about not having further surgery, not having implant replacements after 10 years or so (when I would be nearing 80) and not really expecting that a reconstruction would be "as good as old". On the other hand, I am aware that many women have found reconstruction a really important part of recovery and moving on. As @Rose18 says, there is absolutely no right or wrong and a bit of thinking and preparation is absolutely the best way to go. Best wishes.
  • Jane221Jane221 Central Coast, NSWMember Posts: 1,162
    Hi @Cory51, I'm one of the group leaders with BCNA's Choosing Breast Reconstruction group. You are most welcome to join us - just go to the Groups tab at the top of this page and it will bring up a selection of groups within the online network. Click on Join and write a short message about why you want to be a member and one of us will join you up. This group is a private group which shares photos as well as experiences about many different types of reconstruction. There are also members who are still deciding whether reconstruction is the right choice for them. As @Afraser says, there's no right or wrong, just what is right for you. 

    There is quite a bit to understand about reconstruction and so you might also find the information and resources on the Reclaim Your Curves website helpful. Reclaim Your Curves is a small, peer support and education charity for women considering reconstruction that grew out of the BCNA reconstruction group. You can check it out here:https://www.reclaimyourcurves.org.au/home.html. If you look under the Additional Resources section there are information sheets that cover topics such as choosing your surgeon, questions to ask, preparing for surgery and a comparison chart of procedures. 

    Hope this helps. Hopefully we'll see you in the Choosing Breast Reconstruction group soon. Jane xx
  • Cory51Cory51 Member Posts: 71
    Thank you Jane!
  • Cory51Cory51 Member Posts: 71
    hi Jane, I clicked on the group, then join then wrote something and got the message I needed to be invited to join and so clicked ok but then nothing happened, ie the box didn't go away so i don't know if my request went through or not. Thanks, Jenny
  • Jane221Jane221 Central Coast, NSWMember Posts: 1,162
    Hi @Cory51, I've sent you an invite - not sure why it didn't just go through by clicking join etc. @Giovanna_BCNA, could you keep an eye out and make sure that Jenny's application appears for us? Thanks! 
  • Cory51Cory51 Member Posts: 71
    Thanks I'm in!
  • Rosie_BCNARosie_BCNA Administrator, Staff, Member, Moderator Posts: 215
    Hi @Cory51, there is also an excellent decision assist tool available through the BCNA website https://www.bcna.org.au/news/2017/01/breast-reconstruction-decision-making-tool-breconda-available/
    I've had great feedback from people who've used it. 
  • Cory51Cory51 Member Posts: 71
    hi Rosie, I did go through the BRECONDA and thought it was fantastic. I stopped before i answered questions myself as I haven't seen the plastic surgeon yet and don't feel ready to make a decision. Thanks, jenny
  • VangirlVangirl Melbourne CBDMember Posts: 311
    Hi @Cory51
    I had the same thought process as you. I didn't know at the early stages of diagnosis that reconstruction didn't necessarily mean implants and I knew I didn't want an implant. Having talked to the breast surgeon I was encouraged to think about DIEP flap reconstruction and having radiotherapy before surgery to enable this.
    I am lucky enough that the option was available to me in the public system locally so there were no out of pocket costs at all. There was also no waiting list as the surgery includes removal of the cancer so you are fast tracked.
    I'm now just over five weeks out of surgery, with a couple of small complications along the way, but recovering well. My initial stay in hospital was just a week.
    I can't say I am used to my new body just yet but it feels more comfortable every day and I predict that I'll be fine with it in time. 
  • Patti JPatti J Member Posts: 589
    Hi @Cory51. I am 63. I had a breast reconstruction after left sided mastectomy, 14 years ago. I also have implants. Best thing to come out of breast cancer!
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,871
    Hi Cory. Welcome. I was like you in that I made an instant decision but the other way! I knew I wanted a reconstruction, and that I didn't want implants if I could help it.

    My story is in the Breast Reconstruction group, Kate's DIEP. It's long and detailed! But it will give you an idea of what you're in for if you have this type of recon.

    The short version: for me it was long and difficult but 100% worth it. No regrets, I'd do it again.

    See you over there in the group! K xox
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,534
    edited December 2018
    Hi Cory, I had a mastectomy then chemo and rads and my surgeon won't consider a reconstruction until next year.  However, I am still undecided about whether I want to put my body through more trauma.  And you know what, as far as I'm aware, there's no rush.  Just because you are having a mastectomy, it doesn't mean that you have to make the decision then.  Ask your surgeon what your options are, and exactly what they entail - not just whether it's implants or tissue, but how big an op it would be, realistically how long your recovery would be, what it is likely to look and feel like afterwards, and of course, how much it will cost.  Be aware that with implants, you need to replace them after so many years.  And ask what would happen if you had the mastectomy and put off the decision about reconstruction.  Is it going to impact on what you can have or on the waiting times to have it done?  I'm not trying to put you off but I think it's really important to go in with your eyes open.  As I said, I am still undecided.  Good luck.
  • Patti JPatti J Member Posts: 589
    From what I  have  read, it is not necessary to replace implants after a certain amount of time. It is often only necessary to do so if there is something wrong with them. Many can last 20+ years.
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