Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects women worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 284,200 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women in the United States in 2021 alone. While breast cancer can have a significant impact on a woman’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being, there are several options available for restoring a woman’s confidence and sense of self after treatment. Two popular options for breast cancer survivors are breast reconstruction and breast prosthesis. Both options can help women regain their body confidence and improve their quality of life after breast cancer treatment. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between breast reconstruction vs breast prosthesis and help you choose the right option for you.
What is Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that involves rebuilding the breast after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. There are several types of breast reconstruction surgeries available, including implant-based reconstruction, autologous reconstruction, and a combination of both.
Implant-based reconstruction involves using silicone or saline implants to rebuild the breast. On the other hand, autologous reconstruction involves using the patient’s tissue from another part of the body, such as the abdomen, to reconstruct the breast. The choice of reconstruction method depends on various factors. These factors include the patient’s medical history, body type, and the extent of the surgery required.
Pros and Cons of Breast Reconstruction
One of the main advantages of breast reconstruction is that it can provide more of a natural look to the breasts than breast restoration procedure. It does not require the patient to wear any external devices. Breast reconstruction can also provide a more natural look and feel compared to breast prosthesis. Plus, it can improve self-esteem and quality of life for breast cancer survivors.
On the other hand, breast reconstruction is a major surgery that can have a significant impact on the patient’s physical health and recovery time. Additionally, the procedure may not be suitable for all patients, especially those with certain medical conditions. Breast reconstruction is also a time-consuming process that involves multiple surgeries and can take several months to complete.
What is Breast Prosthesis?
A breast prosthesis, also known as a breast form or breast implant, is a prosthetic device. Patients need to wear it externally to replace the missing breast tissue. Breast prosthesis consists of silicone gel, foam, or fiberfill and come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. The makers prepare them to perfectly fit into a bra. These are idea for women who have had a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or other breast surgery.
Pros and Cons of Breast Prosthesis
One of the main advantages of a breast prosthesis is that it is a non-surgical option. It is easy-to-wear and remove. Moreover, breast prosthesis are easy to customize to fit the individual needs and preferences of the patient. They are also more affordable than breast reconstruction. Plus, it is simpler to replace or update as needed.
Choosing the Right Option for You
When choosing between breast reconstruction and breast prosthesis, it is important to consider your medical history, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Breast reconstruction offers a more natural look and feel but is major surgery with a longer recovery time. A breast prosthesis is a non-surgical option that can be easily worn and customized but may require regular maintenance and replacement. Ultimately, the choice should be made based on your individual needs and preferences, and you should discuss all options with your healthcare team to determine the best option for you.
Patients who opt for breast reconstruction must have realistic expectations about the surgery. They even need to be ready for a longer recovery time. On the other hand, patients who opt for breast prosthesis should consider their level of comfort and the need for regular maintenance and replacement.
However, make sure that your breast cancer surgeon follows proper FDA recommendations for better patient communication. In September 2020, the FDA issued labeling recommendations for saline and silicone gel-filled breast implants to improve patient communication. The recommendations aim to ensure that patients understand the benefits and risks of breast implants. However, they are not intended to replace the discussion between a physician and a patient regarding individual risks and benefits. The FDA issued these recommendations due to concerns that patients are not receiving or understanding the necessary information regarding breast implants.
When a hospital offering breast cancer treatment follows proper FDA guidelines, they ensure that the patient has better understanding of their treatment. Hence, a patient can even choose the right treatment for herself with the help of expert healthcare practitioner.
Both breast reconstruction and breast prosthesis are viable options for breast cancer survivors looking to restore their sense of self and body confidence. While breast reconstruction is one option with a more natural look and feel, it is major surgery with a longer recovery time.
In contrast, a breast prosthesis is a non-surgical option, easy-to-wear, and customize.
Ultimately, the choice between breast reconstruction vs breast prosthesis should depend on the patient’s individual needs, preferences, and medical history as per FDA recommendations. Patients need to have a thorough discussion with their healthcare team to determine the best option for their unique situation.
You can also read: Things to Know About a Lumpectomy and Shapers