Putting together a list of your needs and desires will help you get the most out of your surgery and achieve your breast reconstruction goals. It is a good idea to consider these questions before your consultation and then let your surgeon guide you to make the best choice for your case. Here are some of the most important questions you will need to answer.
- Are you willing to undergo a mastectomy?
- Are you willing to undergo radiation if you are a candidate for lumpectomy?
- What are your feelings about the opposite breast ? Are you considering a prophylactic mastectomy (bilateral or “double” mastectomy) ? Are you willing to have aesthetic surgery on this breast as a matching procedure ?
- What are you feelings about silicone ?
- What are you feelings about another scar or donor site ?
- How big do you want your reconstructed breasts to be ?
- How invasive a procedure are you willing to undergo ? How many procedures are you willing to undergo ?
- How easy will follow up be for you ? Do you live far away ?
From a surgeon’s perspective there are fewer goals. The first goal that the surgeon wishes to achieve is a natural looking breast that does not attract undue attention in normal clothing. Based on this and more challenging is the same goal while the patient is wearing swimwear. Even more challenging is creating a suitable breast when the patient is wearing underwear. Finally, the most challenging of all is to create a natural and appealing breast when viewed naked. These can be considered as “levels” of success.
Clearly not all patients will be able to (or even want to) reach the final goal. Not reaching the three higher levels is not synonymous with a reconstructive failure if the patient is aware of the limitations of surgery and has a realistic expectation of what is achievable.