A mastectomy is something most of us don’t really imagine, or hope, will be something we have to undergo. Usually, a mastectomy is performed due to cancer, or the threat of. Unfortunately, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimate that the number of new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in 2015 will be approximately 15,740, with 145 of those males, and 15,600 females. They estimate 3,065 people will die from breast cancer in 2015. There are a few reasons why we might be considering, or forced into having, a mastectomy:
- breast cancer (usually because it has spread to the lymph nodes or is quite large)
- family history of breast cancer – preventative (remember Angelina Jolie?)
- unable to have radiation therapy for cancer (for personal or medical reasons)
- unsuccessful lumpectomy (surgical operation to remove a cancerous lump in the breast – early stages of cancer).
Mastectomies have become more common in recent years for a number of reasons. It is shown that women who undergo a mastectomy greatly reduce their risk of cancer. It also prevents the spread of cancer should you already have it and it is still confined to your breasts. Dr Charles Cope, Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon based at the North Shore Cosmetic Centre in Mosman and Wahroonga, NSW, says it is common to recommend immediate reconstruction at the time of the mastectomy as it produces better results. He says it not only reduces the number of surgeries required, but it also assists in the psychological issues associated from a mastectomy and allows the patient a quicker recovery time, both physically and mentally, from the effect breast cancer has had on their life.
There are different types of mastectomies. These are:
- Tissue Expander/Implant
- Latissimus dorsi flap
- TRAM flap
There are advantages and disadvantages to each. It also depends on your personal situation and lifestyle as to which reconstruction will suit you better. Your surgeon will talk through with you what is the best option for the most successful outcome with you.
Choosing the right surgeon for you is an extremely important decision. Dr Cope suggests you contact a few surgeons to make sure you find the right one for you. He advises, as we always do here at the Hub, that you make sure your surgeon is a member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) as this means they have undergone specific plastic surgery training. We also recommend you make sure the surgeon you choose has experience specifically in mastectomies and breast reconstruction.
For more information on mastectomies go here or to find out more about Dr Charles Cope go here. Or, look at our comprehensive directory of Australian Plastic Surgeons, all of whom are members of ASPS.