CANSWER HIVE: Talking Breast Reconstruction Pt. 1
THIS IS CANSWER HIVE. TIPS AND INSIGHTS SHARED DIRECTLY FROM RETHINK’S YOUNG WOMEN’S NETWORK (RYWN)
Unless you are going through breast reconstruction due to a breast cancer diagnosis, people don’t really know what the process actually entails. This can lead to unintentional, hurtful comments from a loved one who is just trying to help. That’s why we asked the CANSWER HIVE what they wish their family and friends knew about reconstruction.
When people heard I was having reconstruction they assumed it was a “free upgrade”. It’s hard to tell people that isn’t the case and that the end goal is actually just to have the breasts look good with clothing on.
Fat grafting isn’t free liposuction.
I had HR at my old job tell me that she wanted to come with me to choose my new boobs! It’s not just like going to the store to shop. Also, each person’s reconstruction situation is different based on their treatment. I was only eligible for one type of reconstruction which was too invasive for me right now with young kids.
There are a lot of other side effects that could come along with reconstruction. It is great to have the implants BUT they will never be “better” than my original breasts. (Yes, someone asked me “Do you like your new boobs or your old ones better”??!)
You will not have any sensation in your chest.
There were more psychological effects that came with the reconstruction than I had expected. I had thought that I would feel more whole again after 9 months without any breasts. When I still didn’t feel happy with them, despite the surgery results being quite good, my surgeon told me that it takes time because you can’t feel them, so to your mind, they remain similar to a foreign body. It took me almost a year to feel okay with them. I’m sure it’s more complex than that, but there was some mental acceptance that needed to happen.
Reconstruction is NOT cosmetic surgery.
Hurtful comments I heard: “Lucky you, you get new boobs.” “I wish I got free boobs.” “You are so lucky they won’t sag!” Oh ya…. so lucky
Body dysmorphia is a real thing for many breast cancer patients. It does not get enough attention paid to it. Sometimes, it’s outright dismissed with statements like, “But you’re alive! Be grateful/positive!”
You need time accept the new change.
Reconstructed breasts will never be as good as original breasts. They might look normal in clothes to the outsider, but underneath that shirt we have huge scars that either go straight across the breast from one side to the other or a huge circle that take up half the breast. I also miss my old cleavage. There is a lot of space between reconstructed breasts because they sit further away than regular breasts.