Immediate Breast Reconstruction Plays Significant Role in Physical and Psychological Wellbeing
By: Brandy (Korman) Haslam
Does immediate breast reconstruction help breast cancer patients heal psychologically?
Immediate breast reconstruction after mastectomy has significant benefits on the psychological and social well being of breast cancer survivors, according to a study done by Toronto University.
Findings from the study showed that immediate breast reconstruction after mastectomy improves psychological well-being and quality of life. It also provides women with improved body image and self-esteem compared with delaying reconstruction until sometime after the mastectomy.
Dr. Steven Pisano of PRMA Plastic Surgery said that with immediate breast reconstruction the patient completely avoids the shock of waking up without a breast. This in turn greatly contributes to the patient’s overall sense of well being after surgery.
“They avoid the depression and anxiety and loss of feeling feminine that comes with the mastectomy,” Pisano said.
Toni Zhong from Toronto University reported his findings from the study of 51 patients who underwent immediate DIEP flap reconstruction. He says that patients filled out a questionnaire before surgery and then again three weeks after surgery. The study revealed that patients experienced considerable improvements in sexual well being within three weeks and also reported significant improvements in psychological and social well being.
PRMA patient Jen Barrera-Pogue agrees with the study’s conclusions. “My self-esteem has improved from my reconstruction. The bad news is that I had cancer, the good news was that it was going to be removed and I was going to get a tummy-tuck and a breast lift,” Pogue said.
Pogue says that if she hadn’t been aware that immediate reconstruction was an option, she may not have had reconstruction at all. “Immediate reconstruction was the best option for me because I didn’t want to have to recover twice,” she said. “I don’t know if I would have had reconstruction if I couldn’t have it at the same time as the mastectomy.”
Despite the tremendous benefits of immediate reconstruction, only a small minority of women undergo the procedure. Experts say that physicians need to do better when it comes to informing breast cancer patients of all their treatment options as many are simply unaware that immediate breast reconstruction is an option.
Although surgeons agree that immediate reconstruction is not always an option for every patient, especially those who will need radiation as part of their treatment, they do agree that every patient with a breast cancer diagnosis should be made aware of all their options.