More than other types procedures I perform at my plastic surgery practice in Chicago, breast reconstruction is an emotional roller coaster. Breast cancer can rob a woman of her well-being, her peace of mind, and her sense of femininity. Restoring the breasts after a cancer battle or even an injury can do wonders to make a woman feel like herself again. Overwhelmingly, my breast reconstruction patients agree this surgery isn’t about vanity — it’s about normalcy.
Breast reconstruction isn’t a cut-and-dried procedure. Often, there are many factors to consider, including the patient’s overall health, what type of cancer she has, where it originated and where it has spread, and whether she’s undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or other treatments. Just as there are many potential pitfalls, there are also many choices available to breast reconstruction patients. Immediate or delayed surgery, implant-based or flap reconstruction, and the addition of fat grafting are just a few of the many options I discuss at length with each of my reconstruction patients. In order to navigate all these choices, especially while in the midst of a difficult emotional and physical period, it’s important that patients build a foundation of trust with their surgeons.
On my website’s Real Patient Stories page, you’ll read the words of a woman named Kathleen who mentions the importance of finding a surgeon who will act as “a strong advocate for a patient and her health.” When I treat a patient with breast cancer, I’m not just performing a surgery. I’m collaborating with her other doctors, including her oncologist, and meeting with her numerous times both before and after the procedure. I recognize the role that breast reconstruction plays in the establishment of good physical and mental well-being, and I believe that all breast cancer patients, regardless of prognosis, deserve the same level of care.