What is a Bilateral Mastectomy With Reconstruction?

What is a Bilateral Mastectomy With Reconstruction?

Bilateral mastectomy is the surgical removal of both the breasts that gets affected by breast cancer. Reconstruction is another surgery following mastectomy where artificial breasts are implanted by the surgeon to compensate the removal of the breasts.

What is a Bilateral Mastectomy With Reconstruction?

Is Reconstruction Always Necessary After Mastectomy?

From a medical point of view, reconstruction is not really necessary. It is considered to be an elective procedure. In case of bilateral mastectomy, some women choose to have reconstruction surgery of their breasts, while others may not think it to be a necessity. It should be remembered that breast reconstruction due to mastectomy is not considered to be solely cosmetic and insurance plans do cover up for it.

How is Immediate Reconstruction Different From Delayed Reconstruction?

Sometimes patients prefer to have breast reconstruction done at the same time as their bilateral mastectomy. This is called immediate reconstruction as it immediately follows the surgery for removal of breasts. On the contrary delayed reconstruction is the term used when reconstruction surgery is done months after mastectomy.

Immediate reconstruction surgery has many advantages over the delayed one. With immediate reconstruction one can reduce the overall number of surgeries because it will be done all at once. Again, there is a better chance of optimal cosmetic results and psychological benefits with immediate reconstruction surgery.

What are the Other Options of Breast Reconstruction?

As mentioned earlier, surgical reconstruction is completely optional and one can totally skip this procedure if she wishes to. Also, at times for women who are not good candidates for reconstruction surgery due to health issues, bilateral mastectomy is performed without reconstruction surgery. In such cases, women can ask for external breast prosthesis, once all the incisions heal. Such breast prostheses provide an external appearance of breasts under clothing.

What are the Side-Effects of Double Mastectomy with Reconstruction?

Double mastectomy with reconstruction involves two major surgical procedures and side-effects are quite common. Some of the side effects include:

Pain: The patient with bilateral mastectomy may complain of severe pain in the surgical area as well as places around like arms and shoulder.

Numbness: The patient of bilateral mastectomy may feel unusual numbness or extreme sensitivity in the chest area. Such feelings usually go once the wound heals.

Bleeding: There can be leakage from the implants in case of reconstruction. The doctor should be informed immediately in case of leakage or bleeding.

Scar Tissue: Bilateral mastectomy along with reconstruction can cause scar tissue. Such cases should be informed to the surgeon so that he can take care of the situation.

Infection: There is always a chance of infection to occur in the wound area. Proper care must be taken to avoid that and in case infection occurs they can be detected early and treated accordingly.

Nipple Reconstruction: In most of the cases, the nipples are not preserved during bilateral mastectomy to avoid spreading of cancer. If this happens, the patient may have to go for nipple reconstruction surgery. Although it is a minor procedure, it is not performed immediately. Nipple reconstruction can only be performed few months after the breast construction is complete.

How to Handle Emotional Changes After Bilateral Mastectomy?

Bilateral mastectomy is one such surgery that not only requires physical healing, but also emotional healing. It is normal for women to experience emotional turmoil due to:

  • Feeling of loss of one’s own set of breasts as well as the physical limitations due to recovery.
  • The success or failure to eliminate cancer and again accepting the fate of reconstruction.

For cases like this, the patients should be offered with specialized counseling while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. They should be made to realize that the breast cancer is treated and one can live a happy and normal life after mastectomy and reconstruction.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 29, 2018

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