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Get Educated

It can be overwhelming to navigate all of the options available to you after a mastectomy.
From reconstruction to staying flat to getting tattooed, we have all the need-to-know info to figure out your next steps.

Post-Mastectomy Options

Post-Mastectomy Options

It’s normal to feel analysis paralysis after all the decisions you’ve recently made and the life-altering experience you’ve been through. But, if you’ve undergone a mastectomy, you have more decisions to make. So take your time, talk to people you trust, and listen to your gut.

 

YOUR OPTIONS

Breast Reconstruction

After a mastectomy removes some or all of your breast, you can choose to have the shape of your breast rebuilt. Reconstruction surgery happens either at the time of your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or at a later date (delayed reconstruction). Keep in mind that reconstruction can take more than one surgery.

With your surgeon’s guidance, you can pick your reconstruction approach – use implants (saline or silicone), tissue from elsewhere in your body, or a combination of both. If you underwent a unilateral or single mastectomy, you can also get surgery on your other breast to make your breasts look more alike. Just a heads up – reconstructed breasts might feel different and typically don’t have the same sensations as natural breasts.

Nipple and/or Areola Reconstruction

If your nipple and/or areola was not preserved during your mastectomy, you can have them reconstructed after your chest heals. Typically, a new nipple will be crafted by moving small bits of skin from your chest to the nipple site.

After your nipple reconstruction has healed, you can undergo areola reconstruction. Areolas are typically created with tattoo ink, however skin grafts from other parts of your body are occasionally used to create an areola at the same time as nipple reconstruction. Reconstructed nipples and/or areolas typically don’t have the same sensations as before a mastectomy.

“Going Flat” aka Opting for an Aesthetic Flat Closure

You can opt out of breast reconstruction after a mastectomy and instead choose to stay flat chested by requesting an aesthetic flat closure. After your mastectomy, you will have a completely flat chest wall with no extra skin or fat. Your scar will look flat and smooth, but may require a revision at a later date.

Prosthetics

After a mastectomy, your chest may no longer have the same external appearance as it once did.  You can simulate the look of a nipple or breast without undergoing reconstructive surgery by wearing a prosthesis. The prosthetic form is worn either inside a bra/swimsuit or attached to your body.

There are different types of prosthetics you can choose from for different purposes.

  • Silicone prosthetics – These are typically expensive, but covered by insurance. Silicone options are heavier, but there are some created specifically for swimming that will float.
  • Foam prosthetics – These are generally less expensive, but not covered by insurance. Foam options are very light, washable, and will fit into any bras, shirts, or bathing suits that have pockets for removable pads.

Tattoos

No matter which path you choose after a mastectomy, tattooing is always an available option.

  • Nipple and/or areola tattoos – If you underwent breast reconstruction, but not nipple reconstruction surgery, you can get a realistic nipple and/or areola tattooed on your breast by an artist who specializes in nipple tattooing.
  • Mastectomy tattoos – Whether you opted for any reconstruction or not, you can get a decorative tattoo over a large portion of your chest. Women often consider getting a mastectomy tattoo to help them feel more confident after cancer treatment, mark what they have been through and create something personal, or cover/disguise a scar.

If you are interested in getting a nipple/areola or decorative tattoo, check out our P.ink programs.

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