• Is not wanting a reconstruction weird??

    Asked by Zephyr75 on Monday, April 8, 2013

    Is not wanting a reconstruction weird??

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer last month and I'm having a double mastectomy next Monday. My partner and many of my friends keep going on about reconstruction afterwards, but I genuinely don't want any. I don't feel like having to go through another surgery (and the possible complications afterwards) and no implants can replace my own breasts anyway. I think I'd feel ridiculous with 2 fake boobs. I'd prefer to be flat chested and have the option of wearing prostheses if/when I want to. Most people seem to find it hard to understand why I'm not interested in reconstruction. How to explain it to them?

    29 Answers from the Community

    29 answers
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      I felt the exact same way as you. I chose not to have reconstruction and I am most comfortable with my choice. I wear the prostheses when I go out, etc. but otherwise, I go bra-less and love it.
      As for other people -- they need to understand that the decision is yours alone and that you have been through enough already without having further surgery with the risks of complications. I would just tell them that you have considered your options and priorities and that this is the right decision for you. It is so hard, sometimes, to convey your feelings to those who have not made our journey. They are unable to understand and I guess we need to take that into consideration. Good Luck and stay strong!!

      over 7 years ago
    • CountryGirl's Avatar

      I also chose to go without reconstruction. My cancer was aggressive and I didn't want to delay radiation and, like you, to endure additional surgeries. My double mastectomy was two years ago. At first, I had a lot of problems finding clothes until I found someone to help me with my shopping. Eventually, I developed some techniques to cover my chest. Still, there are a few people who stare curiously at my chest.

      The negative side: some people stare and make me, a confident person, uncomfortable. Finding clothes is more challenging. It will impact a person's sex life. Swimsuits are difficult to find and manage.

      The positive side: I no longer have to wear two layers of sports bras if I want to trot my horse or run a 5K. Muscles that would be affected by a lat or tram flap are still healthy. It is easier to check for cancer at the site after treatment.

      If you'd like more details, email me.

      over 7 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      flat is awesome.... let me say that again - flat is awesome!!!!!
      i love not having boobs in my way when i'm trying to do things, when i'm working out, etc...
      i do - i won't lie - miss my nipples.
      and sometimes, i feel a little self conscious...
      but, overall, for me... flat is awesome.

      over 7 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      I've read of some athletic women not choosing revonstruction, as they can just get on with life asap.

      I'll say that for me it was of great psychological help having something that looks like breasts on my chest.

      In terms of surgery, if you choose the expander option the mastectomy and expander surgery are performed at the same time, so really not much more issues (well some muscle ones, but relatively minor).

      Hope you make the best choice for you.

      over 7 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      The choice is yours, and you should do what you want. I have a friend who had a double mastectomy over 30 years ago, and never looked back. She and her husband are very happy with this choice.

      over 7 years ago
    • Lindy's Avatar

      Your body your decision. You can always have reconstruction later if you so wish, time to "shop" for a surgeon with super skills. They are fake, lack those yummy sensations but make nice bra anchors. By the way, I was in a VFW where a group of men watching a Ms, Hooter contest were shouting "More implants!" I informed them I did not see anyone volunteering for a penile implant.

      over 7 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      This is your decision, and you must be comfortable...in mind and body. People who have not gone through this have their opinions, but they truly don't know what this is all about (in mind and body). So, do your research, talk to people and do what feels best to you. Down the road, you can have reconstruction if you wish. I opted for immediate with tissue expanders; the second surgery when expanders come out and implants go in, is a much easier procedure than mastectomy. My reconstructed breasts are smaller than the originals and I like how clothes fit these days. I was a lucky one, though, with no complications from either surgery. I don't remember discussing whether to have reconstruction or not with anybody...not even my husband. That decision is so personal, so listen to YOU.

      over 7 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar

      Hi Zephyr75, No it is not weid, this is your decision! I did have reconstruction but not until three months after chemo had been completed. I will say that the expander surgery was a little more painful than the mastectomy but no drains!!! I had this surgery on 2/15 and my final fill on 3/6 to bring me to 800cc. Tight at first but not unbearable and now I don't even notice them. My second surgery will be 7/18 and the nurses said it is a breeze compared to the expander surgery.
      I wore the prosthesis for people that were planning on reconstruction and to me it was OK but I just hated looking at the mastectomy scar and hated having my husband see it. He did not care what I looked like--I was alive. Now my scar is a very thin line and he is happy because I am happy. My surgical oncologist and medical oncologist did not recommend immediate reconstruction so that is why I waited. You can change your mind or not--it is definitely your personal choice!!

      over 7 years ago
    • DorothyV's Avatar

      It's such a personal decision. It's also so hard for someone to understand who hasn't been through it. I had a mastectomy on my right breast, expander, then implant. i just had nipple reconstruction. I am 61 and sometimes wonder if I should have done any of it. Each thing is hard to go through and you just want it all to be over! I think, for me, it was the right thing to do. Just do what you feel is right for you without anyone else's input. Good luck with everything:)

      over 7 years ago
    • hikerchick's Avatar
      hikerchick (Best Answer!)

      Bravo! I felt exactly as you do, did not have reconstruction, it's been over 2 years and I'm still so very glad about my decision! I always wear prostheses when I leave the house because I used to be a D cup and don't feel comfortable going without, though I thought about it. I did reduce the size of the prostheses to the smallest I felt I could look "natural" in and I only wear the leisure forms so I don't have to worry about weight in the bra flopping around. I'm pretty active and that's what works for me. I also feel more "balanced" than if I went flat since I have sizeable hips.

      A couple observations from my husband: He said it was a good thing I hadn't gone for reconstruction because I was being so particular finding prostheses that I never would have been happy with whatever a surgeon first produced on my chest (he said it nicer than that, but I can't remember.....). Regarding our sex life, he says I am so much more than "my breasts" and that it just isn't that big of a deal (though this will certainly vary from one individual to the next).

      I chose not to have long conversations with others about my decision. Just told them confidently of my decision and how much my intuition was supporting it and moved on. They usually said, well I could change my mind later and didn't push the issue. There is a website called www.breastfree.org that has some great reassurances on it's home page.

      Good luck! And I think you'll find those around you absolutely amazed at your strength and resolve for a long time to come.

      over 7 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      I was fortunate (or so I thought) that I was able to get immediate reconstruction so only needed one surgery. Well, the left one pulled away from the chest wall and was replaced in November. I got cellulitis on the left one and now it seems to be deflating again. If I had the self confidence the flat and fabulous ladies have, I would take my implants out in a minute.
      While I have the confidence to proudly show off my scars, I dont have the self esteem to go flat...not yet anyway.
      As part of the WEGO Health Activist Writers Challenge I wrote a blog that touches on my feelings about it.

      over 7 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      Since I chose a lumpectory, I'm really not qualified to comment.
      But I think you really don't owe an explanation to other people, unless maybe to your medical provider. This is your personal business.

      over 7 years ago
    • Snooks' Avatar

      Reconstruction is such a personal decision. I chose not to have it done because at my age (57) at the time of my double mastectomy I was not going to put myself through more surgeries. My husband did not have an opinion and left it up to me.. Everyone I knew who went through with the reconstruction had problems and needed additional surgeries and that was not for me. Another reason was I had huge breasts and to look down and see nothing was uplifting!!! Good Luck

      over 7 years ago
    • Cassandra's Avatar

      I decided against reconstruction too. I want this phase to be over with asap and reconstruction prolongs the time due to additional surgery and if radiation/chemo is necessary the expanders/fake breasts have to be removed. This is no ones business but yours. I think most people who question your decision are well meaning, probably afraid this could happen to them, or feel that their femininity is somehow dependent on their breasts. If people argue or are rude enough to ask, I just tell them that I'm waiting for the Dolly Parton size to be back in stock.

      over 7 years ago
    • raven's Avatar

      I had wanted a bilateral, but was talked out of it when my surgeon told me of women he had operated on that developed an infection in the incision on the side that did not have cancer. That delayed their radiation treatment. I decided, based on that information and my desire to move ahead with treatment as expediently as possible, to have a unilateral. I did not opt for any reconstruction. I did not want to go through more surgeries, although I was thinking if the "unbalance" of having one breast (barely a B cup) bothered me I would opt for another mastectomy. It has not. I have not regretted my choices. I did develop lymphedema that, at one point was pretty bad. As a result of concern for the free, unrestricted flow of lymph I opt not to wear a bra or any prosthesis. I chose clothing that tends to minimize the imbalance visually (scarves, lose or flowing tops - no empire waist). I have had the occasional person stare at my chest, I find if I flash them a big smile they pretty much always smile back - often rather sheepishly. I am about 25 years older then you, vanity and sex appeal were not concerns for me. The bottom line is that you can change your mind, even several years from now, if you should elect to.

      over 7 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      Gosh, if you don't want to do it, please don't. Please don't let other people's opinions pressure you. This is such a hugely personal choice - and it's yours alone. I would hope that they would respect your wishes and be supportive - whether or not they agree. Good luck to you. And, no, not wanting reconstruction is not weird.

      over 7 years ago
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      Isn't it funny that many of the women who enjoy their new flatness used to be big bosomed? (Me included) MEN don't understand what a pain it can be to lug around 10 lbs or more on top! I think I am opting for DIEP flap (which doesn't use your muscles--instead, gives you a tummy tuck w/fake boobs), but am putting it off now that Spring and Summer are on the way. Who wants to be recovering during the best part of the year? Thing is, I may change my mind about reconstruction between now and October! Good thing is, that's MY option!

      over 7 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      NO...its not weird to NOT want reconstruction....listen to your heart and do what is right for YOU!!!! The only explanation you owe anyone is that you are doing what is right for you!!!

      over 7 years ago
    • Ajfunstuff's Avatar

      I wore my 42DD prosthesis to look like the other breast that was remaining; it helped me keep my balance after the mastectomy of the one side (I almost fell over many times without it in place!). It helped my clothes fit well until the reconstruction but it was heavy and I didn't like having one big breast and one with the barely noticeable bump of the early days with the tissue expander. I stopped expanding it (yes it was uncomfortable but better if they fill it with 50cc max instead of more than that at a time) and then later reconstruction with removal of that expander for a silicone implant and a BIG reduction on the other side. Unfortunately they found cancer on the remaining breast but the surgeon had plenty of tissue to work with since I was small on the expander side and now I'm pretty happy with little bumps (one real and one fake) such that I can get away with a camisole and I feel good. No more big bras. Radiation treatments were very hard to take but I got through them. Wish I had done the double mastectomy but bottom line, if you want cleavage, go for it. If you don't know, you can always opt for it down the road and insurance should cover it. Best wishes to you!

      over 7 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Not weird at all. I suspect there are more women who opted for no reconstruction than we realize, but we can't tell by looking at them in their clothes.

      over 7 years ago
    • Gabba's Avatar

      Your body...your choice! You are not weird...you are fierce! Good luck and God bless!

      over 7 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Zephyr75,

      Hi. I'm Aliza, a BC patient and the site's unofficial Medical Librarian. I had a mastectomy in December and am going to have reconstruction because I want it. As I tell people, my cancer interrupted my Wedding. I had a mastectomy instead-it was small and intimate...;) I have a sense of humor helps a lot because if you don't laugh, you cry.

      This was going to be my 2nd Wedding. My fiancé and I are both 54 now. My decision to have reconstruction is definitely influenced by being in a new relationship, loving my fiancé [who was a widower who'd cared for a wife with ALS] (there are very high percentages of women with cancer [any kind] who are left by their male S.O.'s-this piece of information didn't just come to me from nowhere, but from my Rabbi, whose wife is being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center {where I am}. They were told this during a support group). So, yes, I'm influenced by this. But I'm vain, and years ago, in the process of having a deviated septum (product of an accident) fixed, I also had the surgeon do some work (not a lot on my nose). I'm vain. I'll admit it. It's part of my personality. I probably would have wanted to be reconstructed regardless.

      There is nothing Weird about anything you decide. You must first please yourself. Regardless of who else is with you, you're the only one who can determine what's right for you. You wouldn't let your S.O. pick your haircolor (unless you are lucky enough not to be coloring your hair...;)), so you need to decide you must to feel what's right for you. You also need to remember that the decision you make now (at the time of your mastectomy) doesn't necessarily have to be final. They can do reconstructions later on just as easily. You need to stop worrying right now about whether to have a reconstruction or not. Just decide not to have one for now! And get through your mastectomy. After that, any other decisions will

      You have my best thoughts and wishes for an easy surgery!! Feel better soon and let us know how you are!...;)

      Warmest Wishes,

      over 7 years ago
    • Zephyr75's Avatar

      Hey guys,

      thanks a million for all your inspiring and thought-evoking answers.
      It really helps to know that there are so many women out there who went/ are going through the same thing.
      I've decided to ask the surgeon on Monday (when I'm having my bilateral mastectomy) to make it as flat and even as possible on both sides. I really, really, really cannot imagine myself wanting a reconstruction at any stage in the future.
      A tattoo on on the other hand... :-))

      over 7 years ago
    • moreorless' Avatar

      It is your body and you just went through major surgery and your friends want you to go through it again sorry but tell them you are allergic to pain and then tell them your doctor says wait a bit until you have finished all cancer treatment not that is any of their business but are they just wanting a friend that looks like a cookie cutter of themselves long leggy blonds with racks. I never had much to start wuth si why add anither 5 lbs of weight to carry ariybd

      about 6 years ago
    • mytoby's Avatar

      Like others say, it is your choice, and what you are comfortable with doing. I had a mastectomy and still have the pain, soreness and numbness, lymphedema and scar tissue to deal with, it has been 3-1/2 months, and I am still healing. I feel unbalanced and can't wear a bra yet, still in the camisole or nothing. Am thinking about when I feel better and heal more, about doing the other breast as I don't know about doing reconstruction, and the pain it involves, and there again about doing the surgery on my other side, and dealing with the pain and the drains were not fun, I am still sore and have scar tissue there too. This has not been fun at all and my surgeon did not warn me about all these side effects that I am experiencing. I am not happy with her. I guess time helps heal our wounds and our psychological wounds, still get down some days and hate the way I look, feels creepy and strange. Do you go through a grief process, like someone dies, it gets depressing and sad when reality hits you when you look in the mirror. Anyone have the same thoughts?

      over 1 year ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar

      There is no good reconstruction surgery. Wish there was. Have had double mastectomy. No one I know has had good results with reconstruction... multiple surgeries.. Implants have shelf life of 10 years. I have no pain... thankfully... Everyone has to make a choice..

      over 1 year ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar

      My husband married for me... not my boobs.. yes he enjoyed them, but he loves ME for who I am.

      over 1 year ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar

      If some man doesn’t love you for lack of boobs or reconstruction., he isn’t worth having..

      over 1 year ago
    • PrettyToes' Avatar

      Yes, I do have fake boobs.. only wear them for party or social gathering to make party clothes fit better.. other wise I don’t. I don’t care what other people think.. Lots of women are flat chested. If it really bothers you, you can wear them every day.. Look around ... all kinds of women have different sizes of breasts. Again... I have NO PAIN.... means a lot to me

      over 1 year ago

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