The Psychological Outcome of Breast Reconstruction Surgery

When a woman or man loses a breast to breast cancer, it seems reasonable to expect one would experience upset and psychological trauma. Yet, the decision to remedy the amputation of the body part through breast reconstruction is not an easy process.

The process means more research, surgery, recovery, possible side effects, support from loved ones and acceptance there will be lifelong scars.

Psychological Distress

One of the main reasons I went ahead with a breast reconstruction after my mastectomy was the remedy the “psychological distress” I was experiencing the loss of my breasts. It took a full week after my mastectomy for that psychological anguish to hit home in a figurative and literal sense.

This was my second diagnosis. I had a recurrence as well a new primary cancer. I was of the mindset, “Mastectomy accepted! Let’s get these breasts off and the cancer out!”

It wasn’t until the week following my mastectomy that I really started to feel the psychological distress. I was sitting in our living room with my oldest son who had come to help care for me after surgery. I felt a wave of sorrow come over me, left the room, stood in front of the mirror, and opened my shirt to look at my scarred and breast less-body.

I put my shirt back on, went back to the room where my son was, and the tears began to roll down my face. I choked back my thoughts and looked at him and said, “I think I’m just realising how much I miss my breasts.”

The Beginning and End of my Psychological Distress

Patient experience is important in breast surgery as it affects the patient psychosocially, her physical functioning, and the aesthetic result. The day, I realised that I missed my breasts was the start of my psychological distress, and it didn’t end until I woke up from my DIEP flap breast reconstruction.

Reflecting back, I am fully satisfied choosing autologous breast reconstruction.  All options were presented to me and I never even considered implants. I do know women, some of them personal friends, who have chosen implants and, like me, have a true sense of gratitude for the method they chose and to have had their breasts rebuilt after mastectomy.

Looking Back

We are living in an era of plastic surgery where the advances in breast reconstruction have significantly improved the aesthetic outcomes for the patient. There have been many advances in techniques used for plastic surgeons performing the procedure.  I am proof positive and witness to the fact that using your own tissue results in high patient satisfaction. I look back at those seven months spent without my breasts. I went through those seven months dealing with psychological distress from losing my breasts.

Those facing mastectomy cannot make an informed decision unless they are presented with those options for breast reconstruction. For more information on breast reconstruction surgery visit http://www.drpeterlaniewski.com.au/procedures/breast/breast-reconstruction/

Author: Linda Weiss