According to a new study by the NHS Information Centre, it seems that women who delay reconstructive breast surgery following their mastectomies are happier with the results than those women who had immediate breast reconstruction.
Researchers found that 76 percent of the women who decided to wait were satisfied with their new breast’s appearance, while 59 percent were happy with the results after immediate breast reconstruction. There was a narrower but still noticeable gap when it came to feelings of sexual attractiveness, as nearly half of women who delayed felt attractive, as opposed to a third of those who had an immediate procedure.
These findings come from a national survey of 7,000 patients in British state and private hospitals. The study was the first to ask women about their feelings 18 months after having mastectomies (breast removals) for breast cancer, and defies previously held views on reconstructive surgery satisfaction rates.
According to an article in the Daily Mail, experts agree this is not a reflection on the quality of the work, but rather has to do with how women compare their new breasts. Women who receive implants or similar procedures immediately following the removal of their original breast tend to compare their new breast with the old. Women who wait are more likely to compare their new breast favorably with the scar left by the mastectomy.
In other words, whether or not a woman waits can bear upon her emotional preparedness and personal outlook. Women who wait have an improvement to look forward to, while women who have an immediate replacement will wish for what they have lost.
Of course, every woman is different, and statistics can only go so far in making prescriptions for action. Women who are undergoing mastectomies and who desire reconstruction should always educate themselves, talk to their doctors, and carefully consider their options. Their happiness is in their hands.