It’s difficult to know which questions to ask when you don’t know what you need to know.
Breast reconstruction is highly individualized. That means that what works for you may not work for someone else. Knowing that is empowering, but it can also be overwhelming. Many individuals struggle to determine what to ask their doctor. The answer lies in critical thinking about your health, your goals, and your body.
It may be helpful to start by asking yourself some of the following questions:
- How long is too long for surgical recovery? Do I have the support I need for weeks of downtime, or do I need to focus on returning to my life quickly?
- How do I feel about having a foreign object, like a breast implant, inside of my body?
- Am I OK with the maintenance that comes with implant reconstruction?
- Why types of exercises and activities do I regularly perform?
- What do I think will make me feel whole?
- Do I want or need to restore exactly the same size breasts that I had prior to mastectomy?
- How important is symmetry to me? (Most applicable to lumpectomy and unilateral mastectomy)
- Am I also undergoing radiation?
Let your answers dictate what you need to ask your doctor. For example, if you have young children and really need to return to child care quickly, you might ask which procedure has the easiest recovery. If restoring your original breast size is important to you and you are considering natural tissue reconstruction, you might ask if you have enough tissue.
No matter what your situation is, you should always ask your doctor:
- What are the long and short term consequences and care associated with each procedure?
- Which procedures do you routinely perform?
- Are you experienced in implant reconstruction, natural tissue reconstruction, or both?