Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Building bigger breasts after cancer
Breast cancer is in the news a lot these days, most recently with the reports of Elizabeth Edwards' Stage IV metastatic cancer. It sparked some discussion among the women of the CNN Medical News unit here in New York. More and more people we know are learning they have breast cancer, and some of them have had mastectomies, which is surgical removal of the entire breast, with or without some other tissues such as the lymph nodes or the chest muscles.

More than half of women who undergo mastectomies also have breast reconstruction, which means that surgeons rebuild the breast area so that both breasts look balanced. Having breasts that look "normal" again can really improve a woman's self-esteem and promote her sense of recovery after cancer. The procedure, which usually takes place in multiple stages, generally has few complications.

Last year more than 56,000 women in America had breast reconstructions, according to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons. I was surprised (and a little upset) to learn that only in 1998 did federal law start requiring insurance companies to pay for reconstruction as part of standard mastectomy coverage. Before that, I imagine reconstruction was generally considered more a luxury that you had to pay for out of your pocket, as if you were having breast augmentation by choice. Can you believe?!

But now that it is required, some women are actually deciding to increase their cup size during the procedure. "Consider it a fringe benefit for being in such a horrible position as having to lose your breasts," is how breast cancer expert Dr. Marisa Weiss put it. AND, on top of that, because it's possible for some women to take their own stomach tissue and use it to rebuild their breast tissue (that's called a tissue flap reconstruction, an alternative to implants), it's even possible to have a tummy tuck as well.

We don't have stats on how many women get reconstructions for sizes larger than their original chest size, or on how many get the tissue flap procedure. But I'm asking all you women out there - if you had to lose your breasts to cancer, and you had to have them rebuilt, would you take the opportunity to make them bigger as well?
Yep. Yes I would. I have a very athletic body- I'm 5'11" and really muscular because I work out a lot. And unfortunately, the image that is out there as what is feminine and desirable is NOT what I look like. I would not do it just "because", however, if I was going to have to do it, why would I NOT get bigger ones?
I've thought about as I lost my mother and aunt to breast cancer. My mother opted NOT to do reconstruction surgery.

Since I'm already a 40-D, I think I would opt to get a breast reduction instead. So smaller with better lift would just fine. It would make it easier to find clothes that fit better and I hope at 48, I am past the age of needing some guy to ogle my chest in order to maintain my self esteem.

Having larger breast is highly overated by both genders. We are so much more than our body parts.
I have said for years...if I had to face breast cancer I would want my breasts higher/larger. Why match a new breast to a 50 year old one. It is about taking lemons and making lemonade.
No way. I'm happy with my size and would never want them bigger, especially not following something that devastating. After going through something like cancer, I imagine that I'd just want to feel like myself again.
Yes, i would definitely go a bit bigger. Not stripper big, but bigger. I think after losing your breasts to breast cancer, it's okay to do something that gives back the femininity that was lost...and why not a bit more?
I have had several reconstruction surgeries and yes I would do it all again. It's not about sexuality, or sensuality for me. Reconstruction to a "bigger" cup size has nothing to do with the SIZE!!. For me, I have been trying to hang on to a little bit of feminity. I just desire to look like a female in a bathing suit. I have very small hips, and have always been built very lean. I will be 40 years old soon, and after 6 years, I still have no regrets with my post mastecomy reconstruction decisions. Good Luck!!!
Last year I underwent a mastectomy and underwent an immediate reconstruction using the "TRAM" flap...tissure from my abdomen. I was told by my plastic surgeon that when reconstructing a breast they err on the side of bigness, making you larger than you were, as opposed to smaller, which most women would not want. Consequently I was so uneven I had to use a bra with prothesis to even me out, and then underwent an implant to my other breast to do without the prothesis. Although I had the TRAM to avoid an implant, I ended up with one anyway. At the end of the day, I have a flatter stomach and am wearing a larger bra....which is,I guess, some "compensation" for having cancer.
Absolutely....when my Mom had cancer and had her breast removed years ago, reconstruction was not an option...for me, I would definitely choose to go a little larger...I have been teased my entire life about being "flat-chested".
Absolutely NOT. I am already a 34HH. Bigger breasts are highly overrated. Besides the point, most clothes are made for smaller breasted people.
At barely 5' tall...I look like a little girl. I don't fill out a swimsuit so some B's would be nice. I'd do it only if I had a masectomy. Let's just hope I don't ever become a B.
My aunt is a breast cancer survivor. As part of her treatment course, she had a mastectomy (sp?) and as a result, had reconstruction surgery. I applaud her courage. If I had to deal with breast cancer, I would do the same thing. If my mom had breast cancer and wanted to have reconstruction, I would fully support her.
I would definitely go for reconstruction, but I would have a reduction. I already have trouble finding clothes for my 40D breasts, it would actually be nice to be able to find shirts more easily
My Mother recently underwent reconstructive surgery and she opted to stay the same size, the doctors were the ones that expanded the breasts to a larger size. She and her mother and her mother's mother all found that their cup sizes were increased from A's to C's .. not sure why this is (I'm assuming it's due to implantation under muscle tissue and lack of any fatty tissue remaining), but I think women would prefer to stay the same size. It could be to maintain some normalcy.
If I ever have breast cancer and have to under go a mastectomy I would actually go for smaller breasts. I am a 38DD and have cystic/fiberous breasts so not only are they big, they are heavy. No bra has ever seemed to support me comfortably, except when I was in 4th grade and still wearing a "B" cup. A size down would be very welcome indeed to me. Hopefully, I will never have to make that decision though.
I am 44 and have had 2 separate breast cancers, one in each breast. The first one was in 2003 and the second one in 2004. Both times I had lumpectomies. Then, this past October I had my yearly mammogram and it showed alot of calcification. They asked me to come back for a repeat mammogram in 6 months instead of waiting a year. That was it for me. I was thinking about bilateral mastectomy anyway. I had it done on Feb. 2, 2007 and it's one of the best things I have ever done. Since there is a history of breast and ovarian cancer in my family, I have a total hysterectomy August 28, 2006 (my birthday).

I had a reconstruction and they did push the fat up from my abdomen, giving me a tummy tuck and two new bigger breasts. It's awesome. For all I've been through I deserved this. I went from a cup size B to a D. Before the surgery, I did hint to the plastic surgeon that I wouldn't mind being a little bigger. I weighted 140lbs and am 5'4". However, I have always held most of my weight in my lower abdomen. I always wanted a tuck, but figured I could never afford one. Well, I guess this is a case of making lemonade out of lemons. Bilateral mastectomies and reconstructions ROCK!!!
How would you like to make a difference in breast cancer research? The Sister Study needs your help to determine if breast cancer is caused by something women come in contact with at work, at home, in their communities or in the personal products they use.

The Sister Study is looking for 50,000 women to help discover the environmental and genetic causes of the disease. Women ages 35 to 74 are eligible to join if their sister (living or deceased), related to them by blood, had breast cancer; they have never had breast cancer themselves; and they live in the United States or Puerto Rico.

ENROLL TODAY or simply help spread the word to women in your community! Either way, you can help find the causes of breast cancer!!

For more information visit www.sisterstudy.org or www.estudiodehermanas.org. Call toll-free 1-877-4SISTER. Deaf/Hard of Hearing call 1-866-TTY-4SIS.
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