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Many women who had breast cancer can opt for having the entire breast taken out (mastectomy) or part of it taken out (lumpectomy), with radiation therapy later. Which is best for you? It depends on the specifics of your breast cancer and the opinion of your doctor.

The latest medical advice is that having a lumpectomy with radiation may be as effective as a mastectomy – IF the woman had a single cancer site in her breast and if the malignant tumor is no more than four centimeters.

In this guide, you’ll find all the information you need about a lumpectomy and mastectomy, as well details about breast reconstruction.

Deciding Between Lumpectomy And Mastectomy

Many women choose a lumpectomy because it saves part of the breast, and it’s not as invasive. But which procedure is ideal for you depends on these factors:

  • How much do you want to keep your breast? For some women, it’s essential. If so, you would probably want a lumpectomy.
  • Do you want your breasts to be close in size? Many women have excellent results with a lumpectomy. If a lot of breast tissue must be taken out, your breast could look smaller than the other. However, there are several San Antonio breast reconstruction operations your plastic surgeon can do to address this problem.
  • Are you worried about cancer coming back? Peace of mind means so much! If it concerns you, then removing the whole breast with a mastectomy could be the best decision.

Note there are other factors to think about when you are choosing between these procedures:

Your Location

The latest research shows that American women tend to get mastectomies more often than those in other countries. In the US South and Midwest, mastectomies are more common than in other parts of the country. We aren’t sure why, but some think it’s something to do with how women view their physicians.

Where You Receive Treatment

Surgeons tend to perform lumpectomies in university hospitals and not as often in community hospitals.

Where Your Surgeon Was Trained

Older plastic surgeons often were taught to do mastectomies. Until the early 1980s, breast cancer was most often treated with mastectomy. Attitudes began to shift at that time, and many more lumpectomies are done today than years ago.

If you want one procedure over another, talk to your surgeon about which they do the most often and why. When dealing with a surgeon who mainly performs one of the procedures, it’s worth getting a second opinion from a specialist who does both.

Mastectomy – Advantages And Disadvantages

Some women opt for mastectomy because having the entire breast remove gives them more peace of mind – completely understandable. Cancer is scary, and some women want to lower the risk it’ll return as much as they can. But there are some disadvantages:

  • This surgery takes longer and is more involved than a lumpectomy.
  • The recovery is more prolonged and more painful.
  • You will permanently lose the breast.
  • You can have breast reconstruction surgery and have excellent results, but more than one surgery may be needed.

Lumpectomy – Advantages and Disadvantages

The primary reason women choose a lumpectomy is it’s a less complicated surgery, and it preserves part of the breast. Recovery is faster.

Some of the disadvantages are:

  • You could have radiation therapy for one or two months.
  • Radiation therapy will affect your breast reconstruction surgery, so you may need to wait.
  • There is a greater chance of cancer recurrence.
  • The breast cannot withstand more radiation if the cancer comes back; mastectomy may be required.
  • You might need additional surgeries after your lumpectomy.

Overview of Breast Reconstruction Surgery

After your lumpectomy or mastectomy, you can have a variety of breast reconstruction surgeries. As you review the options, it’s essential to discuss your health and preferences with your surgeon.

These are the most common breast reconstruction surgeries:

  • Breast reconstruction with silicone or saline implants
  • Breast reconstruction using your tissues; also is called a flap procedure
  • Areola and nipple reconstruction after breast surgery

Some plastic surgeons like to use a breast implant and flap procedure combined to form the new breast. Also, you can opt for fat transfer and areola and nipple tattooing to make the new breast look like the real thing.

Remember that some patients who have a partial mastectomy or lumpectomy don’t need breast reconstruction surgery.

Which Breast Reconstruction Is Best?

If you need breast reconstruction, you should review your options with your surgeon. Significant factors to consider are:

  • Your general health and whether you smoke
  • Where the tumor is and its size
  • How large your breast is
  • Whether you had mastectomy or lumpectomy
  • Whether more treatments are required for your cancer
  • How much extra fat do you have? A thin woman may not have enough fat to use
  • Whether both breasts need reconstruction
  • How quickly you want your recovery to be

Your plastic surgeon will talk about your medical and health history and review your options. Which procedure is best depends on your age, health, body type, lifestyle, and goals. Be frank with your surgeon and tell him or her what you want and what is most crucial o you.

Request a Breast Reconstruction Consultation

If you’re interested in a San Antonio breast reconstruction procedure, Dr. Scott J Farber or Dr. Amita Shah of Hill Country Plastic Surgery can help. They will consult with you for your San Antonio breast reconstruction today. They’ll go over the options, your goals, and more to determine if you’re an ideal candidate for breast reconstruction.


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