Top 3 Reasons Patients Delay Breast Reconstruction
When considering breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery, patients have two timing options. Immediate or delayed. Immediate breast reconstruction is performed at the same time as the mastectomy. There are many benefits to immediate reconstruction. These include shorter recovery and less visible scarring for the patient. However, not all patients are able to undergo immediate reconstruction. In these cases, delayed reconstruction is performed. Delayed reconstruction can be performed weeks or even years after the mastectomy. Although there can be many reasons why a patient may elect to delay their reconstruction, here are the top three reasons breast reconstruction is typically delayed…
Breast Cancer Treatment
Patients who must undergo radiation therapy as part of their breast cancer treatment are often recommended to delay their reconstruction surgery until after their radiation treatment is complete. This is because of the high risk of permanent damage the side-effects of radiation can cause to the newly reconstructed breast. At PRMA, we recommend patients wait for a minimum of six weeks following their last radiation treatment before undergoing surgery. This timeline is increased if the patient has a severe skin reaction to the radiation treatment.
Access to Care
Although breast reconstruction is an option available to all breast cancer patients, not all have access to surgeons with the expertise in the surgery they desire. For many patients seeking advanced reconstruction options like the DIEP flap, traveling is required. At PRMA, we do try to accommodate our traveling patients who also seek immediate reconstruction by referring them to a local breast surgeon for a mastectomy, but this is not always possible and not always desired by the patient.
There is no deadline for breast reconstruction. There is also not a “perfect time” for reconstructive surgery. The best time for surgery is when it is right for the patient. Personal choice and discussing the pros and cons of breast reconstruction timing with a healthcare team is essential in making a decision that best meets the patient’s needs.
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It is a great honor to be part of a team with such a rich tradition of excellent patient care, shares Dr. Andrew Gassman, the newest surgeon to join the PRMA team. Years and years of procedure fine tuning with individualized care means our patients truly benefit from both efficiency and experience.