One of the biggest decisions women have to make after a mastectomy is whether to have reconstructive surgery or remain flat. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of reconstructive procedures performed by their member surgeons was around 5.8 million per year from 2015 to 2017. This may be a little surprising considering that despite the 2015 Breast Cancer Patient Education Act (BCPEA), studies show that only 23 percent of women are aware of the range of breast reconstruction options available to them. But studies also show that an increasing number of women are saying no to reconstruction surgery.
Considerations for Going Flat
Choosing no reconstruction is a very personal option, but it is a viable one. There are several reasons why you might want to consider going flat, including:
- You may not want to have any additional surgery after a mastectomy.
- You may want to avoid the potential for chronic pain and other complications that sometimes result from breast reconstruction.
- You might have certain autoimmune or skin disorders (e.g., scleroderma) that make reconstruction concerning to you.
- You may be concerned that your reconstructed breasts will not look or feel as you had hoped.
- You may be concerned about the risk of infection after reconstruction surgery.
- You may wish to avoid scar tissue on parts of your body where tissue was removed to create the new breast mound.
- You may be concerned about tissue death (necrosis) after surgery.
- You may not want to have your other breast reshaped to match the reconstructed breast, and therefore choose to remove both.
- You may not want to go through a longer recovery time.
- You may simply feel that reconstruction is not important to you.
- You may welcome the freedom being flat offers – free to exercise as you choose, to wear (or not wear!) certain clothes, etc.