Can Breast implants help in improving the QOL?
Breast cancer can be more difficult for few people when compared to others. One way that it’s proven to be more is when you end up undergoing total mastectomy, which involves removal of the entire breast, including the breast tissue, areola and nipple. This causes more trauma or damage than the cancer itself.
Impact of total mastectomy in women:
- A lot of women post mastectomy seemed to have reported that they feel less self-confident and self-esteem.
- Many survivors report that they feel less attractive and feminine, especially in the eyes of their partner which may result in psychological problems.
- It is linked to the feeling of loss of personal attractiveness, low self-esteem and avoidance of social relationships.
- It may result in withdrawal from family life. According to sage pun journals, it can also result in depressed mood, apathy, anxiety, excessive sense of fatigue, and abandonment of previously pursued passions and hobbies may well bring about deep depression and, in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts.
How to cope with mastectomy?
- Keep a positive attitude. One of the ways to do so is to think how mastectomy has protected your life from cancer.
- Communicate with your partner which helps in having a healthy sex life.
- Watch everything that you put in your mouth. Eat healthy and practice a healthy lifestyle which might help you in feeling good about yourself.
- Consider having breast augmentation or breast prosthesis.
What is breast augmentation/ reconstruction surgery?
During reconstruction, a plastic surgeon creates a breast shape using an artificial implant (implant reconstruction), a flap of tissue from another place on your body (autologous reconstruction), or both.
It can restore balance between the two breasts by replacing skin, breast tissue, and the removed nipple. The amount of reconstruction will depend on the mastectomy and the width, size, and location of the removed tumor.
Different reconstruction options:
Implants: This can be done at the time of the mastectomy (which is called immediate reconstruction) or it can be done after the mastectomy incisionshave healed and breast cancer therapy has been completed (which is called delayed reconstruction). Delayed reconstruction can happen months or even years after the mastectomy.
Several different types of breast implants can be used to rebuild the breast. Implants are made of a flexible silicone outer shell, and can contain saline or silicone gel.
It’s also important to know that while breast reconstruction rebuilds the shape of the breast, it doesn’t restore sensation to the breast or the nipple. Over time, the skin over the reconstructed breast can become more sensitive to touch, but it won’t be exactly the same as it was before surgery.
Remember that Implants can rupture, causing pain and infection. You may need surgery to remove or replace them.
Tissue flap procedures use the tissue from a woman’s abdomenor back (or sometimes the thighs and bottom) to create a mound to reconstruct the breast.
Side effects that you might face: Infection, pain, itching, numbness or tingling sensation, fluid collection etc.
An alternative to reconstruction- Breast prosthesis:
Breast prosthesis is an artificial breast form. It gives a breast a more natural shape after a mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery. Prosthesis is the fastest way to fill the space where your breast was.
According to breastcancer.org, there are two main types of breast prostheses, and each may be right for you at different times and for different reasons:
A lightweight model (polyfill or foam)is recommended when you’re recovering from surgery, because it’s most comfortable. It also feels good during warm weather and swimming and can be machine-washed. Most lightweight breast prostheses can be worn in chlorinated or salt water.
Silicone prosthesis may look more realistic and feel more natural to you for everyday wear. Two types of silicone prostheses are available:
Asymmetrical: designed only for the left side or only for the right side
Symmetrical or pear-shaped: these work on either side and can be worn sideways to fill out the side of your bra, or straight up for center fullness.
Some specialty shops sell custom-made breast prostheses, individually constructed and cast to match the natural contours and color of your body and your other breast. These are usually made from silicone or latex and are significantly more expensive than a breast prosthesis that isn’t custom-made.
Many breast prostheses manufacturers also make special bras with pockets in the cups to hold the prosthesis in place. They are made to support the weight of the breast form.
Does the reconstructive surgery or implants improve the quality of life in survivors?
In a study conducted on 41 women, completed the comprehensive BREAST-Q Augmentation module before having their breast implant procedure and after the procedure was completed. The results of the surgery were determined for each individual patient and also for the group as a whole.
The results of the BREAST-Q module were as follows:
- 83% of women reported a significant increase in satisfaction with their breasts.
- Of the women who participated in the study, 88% were seen to have a dramatic improvement in their psychosocial well-being.
- There were 33 out of 41 women (81%) in the study who stated that they had significant improvement in their sexual well-being following their breast augmentation.
The study authors concluded that this particular surgery generally had a very positive effect on the quality of life for the patient. This upheld the initial hypothesis, and was proven on both the individual patient level and the overall average across the study participants.
In another study conducted by NCBI, findings with 48 breast surgery patients indicate that breast surgery procedures can clearly affect a woman in multiple spheres of function and quality of life. It improved the quality of life in terms of:
- Satisfaction with breasts
- Satisfaction with overall outcome
- Psychosocial well-being
- Sexual well-being
- Physical well-being
- Satisfaction with the process of care
Talk to your health care provider; discuss everything in detail before going ahead with any of the above mentioned methods.
Tags: Breast cancer, total mastectomy, Impact of total mastectomy in women, less self-confident and self-esteem, psychological problems, loss of personal attractiveness, low self-esteem and avoidance of social relationships, depressed mood, apathy, anxiety, excessive sense of fatigue, abandonment of previously pursued passions and hobbies, deep depression and, in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts, How to cope with mastectomy, breast augmentation/ reconstruction surgery, Different reconstruction options, Implants, An alternative to reconstruction- Breast prosthesis, Custom-made options, Mastectomy bras