Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

Immediate LD flap

by S

When I was told that I needed to have a mastectomy I was given the option of having an immediate reconstruction. My first reaction was basically 'Get it off' but of course things never happen that quickly.

The previous year I had read an article in the regional health mag where a woman chose to have a delayed reconstruction - at that time I wondered why she didn't just go for one operation instead of two - so that was at the back of my mind.

My breast care nurse told me that if I had the reconstruction the other side would be reduced to match.

For many years I my sacroiliac has gone at frequent intervals and I have learned to keep myself as balanced as possible whatever I am doing. Somehow, and I realise this may sound irrational, I was convinced that with a mastectomy on the same side I would be so unbalanced that my back would be at greater risk of going.

I checked on operation times and recovery times for what was on offer at that time and was very undecided. If I could have had a bilateral mastectomy I would have been happy as then I would have been physically balanced but my BCN said that surgeons were very reluctant to remove a 'healthy' breast.

The one thing that I was certain about was that my body wouldn't tolerate having an implant.

Then came my appointment with the breast surgeon I had chosen. I still had an open mind with a preference for a bilateral mastectomy. As my BCN predicted he didn't want to remove the other breast and then started talking about how the mastectomy would be done.

At the point where he was drawing a diagram of where the cuts would be made and saying the skin would be cut off I suddenly wondered where the skin would come from if I chose to have a delayed reconstruction and thinking that skin grafts etc were likely to be very painful. That was the moment when I decided to go with the immediate reconstruction - although I did check when the 2 operations could be done. Mastectomy only was 2 weeks and the immediate latissimus dorsi reconstruction 4 weeks. My gut reaction told me that I could bear waiting an extra 2 weeks.

Of course with having the later reduction and tidy-up I didn't get away with having 1 operation instead of 2 but 5 years later I know that I made the right choice for me.