When you get diagnosed with breast cancer you are faced with so many decisions at once depending on your diagnosis. Do you get a lumpectomy with radiation, do you get a mastectomy, do you get a double mastectomy with reconstruction or do you go FLAT? And depending on your surgeon, they may not even present going FLAT as an option.
Trust me….all the options can be so overwhelming and the whole process moves so fast.
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma ER PR positive and HER 2 negative on August 31st of 2021 at 38 years old. I found a lump in my right breast at the beginning of August by a self-exam. I’m so thankful for being aware of my body and noticing the lump because it would be another two years before I would have had my first mammogram!
Initially after being diagnosed, I thought double mastectomy with reconstruction, it was like just automatic because that’s what you always hear about. However, after I started doing more and more research, I quickly learned that that wasn’t the route I wanted to take my body down. And the more I researched it became clear to me that an aesthetic flat closure was the healthiest choice for my body.
Now, this is a personal choice for every woman whether to reconstruct or not. And for me I just really couldn’t imagine something foreign in my body and not knowing how my body would react to the process.
Reconstruction is NOT like a regular boob job. It is a three-month process where expanders are filled with saline over time to stretch the tissue out to allow room for the implants to be placed after three months. And a lot of women’s bodies struggle with this process. I read a lot of stories of how women spent two years of their lives doing multiple surgeries for their reconstruction process to eventually just explanting and going flat because their bodies were rejecting the implants.
And according to breastcancer.org 43% of women are unhappy with their reconstructive breasts- that my friends is a very high number of women. So, I encourage you to please google images of reconstructive breasts so you know what you are getting into if you are contemplating it as an option. They sit much higher than regular implants and almost look like balloons under your shirt.
I also highly recommend joining the Facebook groups Fierce, FLAT, Forward and Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole before making a final decision on your surgery. Because even women who have opted for regular breast enhancements are deciding to explant for the health of their bodies–and I mean A LOT.
Mentally you must be prepared both ways whether you choose to reconstruct or to go flat. For me, I just knew I wanted to feel normal again. My mental health was not well after being diagnosed and I just wanted the cancer out of me and to return to a normal life as quick as possible. Because life is best when we feel good both mentally and physically right? So, I just knew that going FLAT was the safest option to return to a sense of normalcy as well as for the health of my body.
When choosing to go FLAT you will probably be the one to mention to your doctor as an option of treatment, unless they are aware of the flat movement already. Most doctors just assume women want to rebuild their boobs regardless of the health risks, which is why not many present it as an option—and they also get paid more to reconstruct.
If choosing to go FLAT, you want to ask your surgeon for an Aesthetic Flat Closure, which is a mastectomy closure with an aesthetically optimal appearance for the chest wall. A smooth, flat closure without any lumps or bumps that showcases how we were before puberty hit us.
There is huge difference in recovery time as well. When you choose to go flat you are looking at 3-4 weeks before being back on your feet and doing for yourself. With reconstruction you are facing 12 weeks of recovery time and you can expect to be super sore after every appointment where saline is injected into the expanders to expand the skin out.
So, the decision as you can see really is a personal one for each woman and what she feels comfortable with. Are certain risks necessary for your happiness? If you identify yourself with your boobs, then maybe those risks for reconstruction are worth it to you. For either surgery there is a lot of mental preparations that need to be done beforehand.
Stay tuned for my next blog discussing tips on how to mentally prepare yourself for the changes to your body. Plus, join me on my Youtube channel for weekly videos discussing all things breast cancer, life and style for flat chested women.
Sending you lots of love and light my friends,