Reframing the Breast Reconstruction Discussion - Know ALL Options and Decide What is Best For You

By: Courtney Floyd

Blogs
November 02, 2016

Every morning over a cup of coffee I scan through the latest news and blogs on breast cancer and breast reconstruction. I love keeping up to date on the latest studies and improved technologies! This morning I came across an article in the New York Times titled Going Flat After Breast Cancer.

I work with many breast cancer patients forced to make difficult decisions every day. The title of the article immediately caught my attention and I was excited to read about the brave women and their decision to not have breast reconstruction after their mastectomy.

While using a primarily negative tone towards breast reconstruction, this article also paints plastic surgeons and oncologists as pushy and aggressive when it comes to discussing reconstructive options with patients. The author even goes on to state “breast reconstruction has become the standard of care”. Unfortunately, we can only wish every woman who wanted reconstruction was given that option.

Here’s another perspective…

Less than 25% of breast cancer patients are informed of ALL their breast reconstruction options. That means about 75% of patients undergo lumpectomy or mastectomy without knowing about the broad range of options available to them.

I have personally talked with many women who express through tears how if they had only known their options ahead of time they would not have struggled with self-image or put up with prosthetic for so long. I have also met and spoken to countless women who experienced complications with implants only to find out years later that implants weren’t their only option.

I am a firm believer every patient should have a voice when it comes to their own healthcare decisions and all choices must be respected equally. Choosing not to undergo breast reconstruction is a choice. Choosing breast reconstruction is a choice. Both can be the “best” choice for any given individual.

Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo, plastic surgeon at PRMA, firmly believes “shared decision making between the physician and patient is crucial in achieving the best patient outcomes.” I could not agree more with this statement! Through shared decision making, patients and their physicians can work together to formulate the best treatment plan, personalized for them.

Patients should be informed of all their options—including reconstruction without implants and no reconstruction. Pros and cons of each option should be discussed and in no way, should a patient feel bullied or pushed into something they are not comfortable with.

Let’s reframe this discussion. It shouldn’t be about which option a patient chooses. It’s not about whether reconstruction or living flat is best. The final choice shouldn’t matter. Let’s make this about patients having all the options and their choice, whatever that may be, being respected. That’s what’s most important.

I applaud these beautiful women in this article! I only hope that through sharing their stories they will inspire the breast cancer community to bring awareness in a respectful and evidence based manor to all options available today. 

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4 Comments

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  • Amy

    Thank you for posting this. I am currently two years post reconstruction, and experiencing complications. Each day, my feelings and emotions about my reconstruction change. One minute, I think having the implants removed and going flat is the best option. The next minute, I think of turning 40 in two months and (hopefully) living the next 40 years with maintaining some definition on my chest. This is a decision that only I can make after weighing the choices breast cancer, treatment, surgery, and genetics have left me with. I appreciate the physicians and clinicians out there who respect a woman’s right to define her body as she sees fit!

    Reply
  • PRMA Plastic Surgery

    Thank you for sharing Amy! This journey is very personal and sensitive! So sorry to hear you are experiencing complications with your implants!! Please know you do have options to consider such as replacing the implants with your own tissue through a procedure like the DIEP flap, or removing the implants all together and choosing to remain flat. Your journey is specific to you and we respect and honor that! We only hope to spread the word on all options so women can make informed decisions that are best for them! Sending love and well wishes your way!

    Reply
  • Lisa

    Thank you Amy for this wonderful article. Being the founder of the My Destiny Foundation, Inc., we find this issue on an almost daily basis from our members of our support group. Women who are choosing surgery due to a cancer diagnosis or as prevention are not giving their full options to choose and their decisions are not respected. Each woman individually should make the decision for her and her only, not what is best or easiest for everyone else, including the surgeon. I also believe the patient needs to have 100% confidence in her surgeon and his/her team. We love your team and have many members of our group who have had surgery performed by one of your excellent surgeons and we thank you for treating them kindness and respect..

    Reply
  • PRMA Plastic Surgery

    You are most welcome Lisa! It is a very real issue and we are so glad there are support groups like yours surrounding women and supporting them during this difficult decision! Thanks so much for your support and for your kind words about our practice!

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PRMA Plastic Surgery