New Breast, Now What: Managing Expectations Following Reconstruction

Let’s face it — no matter what you’re going through your experiences are going to differ from someone else. Others who have had breast cancer, a mastectomy and reconstruction can tell you all about it but your journey will be different than your best friend’s, your neighbor’s or the woman sitting next you in chemo.

However, you are still going to have some expectations of how things may — or may not — happen following your reconstruction. The question is: How do you manage them?

You expect that reconstruction should be easy.

Ann* said that she educated herself immensely throughout her journey, but she was not fully prepared for the magnitude of her reconstruction surgery. She knew it would be a big deal and it would take a few months to recover, but for her, it took multiple surgeries

and her recovery took a lot longer than that. Your body has been through so much and it’s going to take time to heal. Don’t get dejected. Everyone heals at a different pace, but if you’re concerned about how fast your recuperation is going, talk to your doctor.

You expect everything done in one procedure.

Most breast reconstructions require more than one surgery, and, if desired, a nipple tattoo will be added months later to complete the process.

You expect to look the same after reconstruction.

You’re missing your breast and want the new one to look the same. While doctors do what they can to recreate your natural-looking breast, the new one will be a little different. It may end up slightly smaller or higher or rounder or feel different. Expect that there will be changes. It might take time to get used to these changes, but it’s easier to do it if you expect them going in.

You expect that your breast will feel the same.

When Susan had her reconstruction, she expected that the new breast would feel the same as it did before. Instead, it had no feeling at all and made her self-conscious, especially when she was intimate with her spouse. Of course, losing sensation can happen, but fortunately, The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction offers ReSensation™, where donated nerve tissue attaches to a patient’s remaining new tissue in the affected area. Over time, nerve-endings regenerate and feeling returns.

You expect adjustment to be easy.

Jill said there are many things she misses about not having her natural breast. She didn’t expect to feel so down after a procedure that is supposed to help. To help her cope, Jill reminds herself of her goal to stay healthy for herself and her family, including her beautiful grandchildren and she said that she is grateful for everyday she can do that. Over time, she has learned to accept her new breast and enjoy her life.

You expect limited options.

Your doctors should work with you throughout the process. All breast reconstruction options should be discussed to help you to make a smart, informed decision.

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