October is here and so is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women (right behind skin cancer), making it likely that most of us have someone in our lives who has been affected by it. As plastic surgeons, we often see patients for reconstructive breast surgery after mastectomies for cancer.

 

I don’t want a mastectomy but I’m advised to have one.

If you’ve been told you need a mastectomy because of cancer that is already present or as a precaution based on genetics or past cancer history, it is important to take this advice seriously. Mastectomies save the lives of many women every year. While we can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose a portion of your body, we’re here to tell you that if you choose mastectomy to increase your chance of survival from this terrible disease, your appearance and self-esteem do not have to suffer. Breast reconstruction procedures are very effective in restoring a natural appearance to the breasts.

An icon for breast reconstruction with a breast cancer awareness ribbon over one breast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does breast reconstruction entail after a mastectomy?

Breast reconstruction is a great way to love your body again after a mastectomy. When a woman makes the brave decision to get a mastectomy in the first place, many choose to make the next brave decision to undergo breast reconstruction surgery in order to feel like themselves again. We understand that any surgery can be very intimidating and know that before breast cancer, many of our patients had never considered breast surgery or any type of plastic surgery. The biggest barrier our patients face is making a decision they never thought they would have to make. A big part of our job is to make this process as easy and comfortable as possible. We even have past breast reconstruction patients available to speak with women going through this process. Just ask and we can connect you.

We want to give you your body and confidence back after giving your all to fighting cancer. We will listen to your needs and provide thoughtful feedback based on our prior experiences. At Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona, our main and only focus is to send you home feeling like yourself again.

 

An image of Dr. Boettcher speaking to a patient in a medical room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What preventative measures do you recommend?

There are lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of breast cancer. The Mayo Clinic suggests taking these precautions:

  • Limit alcohol.
    • To less than one drink a day.
  • Don’t smoke.
    • This link is strongest with premenopausal women.
  • Control your weight.
    • Obesity increases risk.
  • Be physically active.
    • It helps maintain a healthy weight.
  • Breast-feed.
    • The longer you breast-feed, the better.
  • Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy.
    • Combined three to five years of hormone therapy increases risk.
  • Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution.
    • Reduce exposure to medical imaging for when it is absolutely needed.

Mammograms are important. Your doctor can talk to you more about recommendations but most recommend every 1-2 years depending on age and risk factors. Self-exams are also important. Always being aware of your body and performing self-checks is a great way to be proactive with your health. We recommend following this guide on how to perform monthly breast self-examinations.

An infographic of a women checking herself for breast cancer by conducting a self breast exam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout October, we will be sharing real stories from real breast cancer survivors in our efforts to spread awareness. If you would like to donate to breast cancer research efforts, we recommend visiting this blog and picking the organization whose mission resonates with you the most.

Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona provides various reconstruction options including immediate reconstruction at the time of mastectomy and delayed reconstruction. We also provide state-of-the-art surgical and skin care to all residents in Northern Arizona with locations in Flagstaff, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, Cottonwood, Kingman, Payson, Lakeside, and Prescott Valley. Feeling confident in yourself is important for everyone in all stages of life, every day. Learn more about the procedures we provide by visiting our website. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (928) 774-2300 or filling out our form.

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