What To Do If Fear Is Keeping You From Undergoing Breast Reconstruction

breast reconstructionThe question below is answered by Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr., of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction.

I am scheduled for reconstruction on the 29th. I feel as though I shouldn’t go through with it because, for one, I am 58 years old and secondly because I am scared that I will not be pleased. Thirdly, I heard that it is very painful and is worse than the bilateral mastectomy I had. I am so confused as to what to do.

Firstly, if you are scared, and feel strongly that you shouldn’t do it, then DON’T—END OF DISCUSSION! We’re talking about a quality-of-life surgery, not life-saving surgery. Attitude about the outcome is far too important to risk going into it feeling like you shouldn’t.

Having said that, unless you have a serious medical condition making the surgery dangerous, diabetes, or inadequate donor sites (I assume we’re talking about DIEP or GAP flaps), statistics suggest it might not be as bad as you fear.

Age is of no consequence—some of our happiest DIEP patients (and best healers) have been in their 70s.

Satisfaction with the final outcome is critically dependent upon realistic expectations, which can only be arrived at through careful preoperative discussion with your surgeon, and ideally, also through discussion with other patients.

Perforator flap surgery IS more painful than mastectomy, but pain is a relative thing. A few patients say it is terrible, most say it was about what they expected, and a few say they had almost no pain, even the day after surgery. I can think of one patient out of hundreds who suggested she might not have gone through it if she knew how bad the recovery would be.

Best of luck to you, and please feel free to ask any more questions.

—Dr. Richard M. Kline, Jr.

What Does It Mean to Eat Healthier?

healthy eatingWhat does healthy eating mean to you, personally?

Eating healthier means different things to all of us. For one person, it might mean cutting out animal products and eating strictly organic vegan food. For another, it might mean eating out no more than a couple times a week and learning to cook.

Transforming your eating habits is a process, and you can’t expect to be perfect overnight. Eating healthier means striving to avoid unhealthy food most of the time. Only you can decide what it means to decrease unhealthy food and add healthy food. Your doctor or nutritionist can help, but you must live with your new eating habits, so your plan must be realistic.

We’ve seen people stop eating certain foods cold turkey, and while it works for some, for others it’s a recipe for disaster. When you deprive yourself of foods you love, you may reach a point where you have an overwhelming craving for that food, and then you’re likely to binge, or eat a large amount at one sitting.

We recommend that instead of cutting out favorite foods completely, allow small portions occasionally, or find an acceptable substitute. One example is moving from eating large amounts of milk chocolate daily to small amounts of dark chocolate a few times a week. Another example is limiting yourself to one soda a day.

When you’re ready to change your diet for the better, you can start with these tips:

  • Think about how you eat now. Look at how often you eat processed food, such as frozen pizza, versus food in its natural state, such as fruit. Generally, the less often you eat processed food, the better.
  • Keep a food diary for two weeks. You’ll see where you can improve, and you’ll have a good idea of exactly what you’re eating.
  • Visit www.healthfinder.gov, www.healthypeople.gov, and www.mypyramid.gov for more information on healthy eating and ways to change your eating habits.
  • Decide what you can and cannot live with when it comes to healthy eating, and start with small steps such as reducing sugar intake. Once you’re comfortable with that, add another small change to your diet.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Make minor changes gradually, and you’ll still enjoy eating while you work toward your goals. Use your doctor and nutritionist for help and guidance.

What steps to improve your diet are you considering? If you’ve already taken steps to change your eating, please share in our comments section.