(English) How To Rebuild A Breast
Thanks to escalating global awareness and celebrities like Angelina Jolie, breast reconstruction is now well accepted as a holistic element of breast cancer treatment. Breast reconstruction rebuilds the breast form after a mastectomy (cancer surgery to remove the breast).
Breasts are a symbol of a woman’s femininity and motherhood. Losing one or both breasts to cancer is shattering. The option of breast reconstruction not only restores physical balance to the body. Many studies have shown that women with reconstruction after mastectomy fare better than women without reconstruction, in terms of their psychological well-being, self-image, sexuality, as well as overall functionality and strength to overcome the disease. In a way, breast reconstruction closes the loop after breast cancer.
The ways to reconstruct a breast include the use of breast implants or our own tissues, often from areas where there are excess, such as the tummy. Most of the time, the reconstructive surgery is done at the same time as the cancer surgery, which means when patients wake up from their cancer surgery, she would still have her ‘breast’.
Not all women are suitable for breast reconstruction, but those who are should discuss their options with a breast reconstructive surgeon. “I see over and over again how breast reconstruction has restored the confidence of breast cancer survivors,” explains Dr Chia Hui Ling, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at SW1 Plastic Surgery Clinic. Dr Chia is the co-founder of Breast Reconstruction Awareness Singapore (BRAS), a non-profit organisation that raises public awareness in breast reconstruction, and also provides information and support for breast cancer survivors considering reconstruction. When asked what was the driving force behind the setting up of BRAS, Dr Chia explained that with the documented benefits of breast reconstruction, “we want to ensure that women do not shun (breast) reconstruction without first understanding the potential benefits.”