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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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Breast Cancer Surgery and Self-Image

The first look in the mirror after surgery was difficult,” shared Mary*, a breast cancer patient who had a mastectomy. “While it was hard to see incisions on my body, I chose to focus instead on what was going on and what the doctors told me to expect.”

    Self-image is closely tied to one’s perception of his or her body. We find the right haircut, select the perfect style of glasses, and pick clothing that fits our body type. Many books, articles, and websites provide suggestions to help children and teens navigate body image and self-esteem. However, adults also struggle with the same challenge.
    A 2012 article in Psychology Today describes how adults, too, suffer from a “barrage of critical self-thought.”** Our bodies, the author says, are the biggest target of our critical inner voice, bringing us back over again to our imperfections and stopping us from “relaxing in our own skin.”
    Think about how surgery can complicate these already complex emotions. Surgery, by its very nature, changes our bodies, so it’s normal to see how surgery may also further complicate our body self-image.
    There’s no question breast surgery can be emotionally difficult for a woman. After all, the breasts are a physical attribute commonly associated with femininity and female attractiveness. Surgeries on the breasts have short and long-term impacts on emotions and appearance, discomfort, and sensitivity.
    In the case of breast cancer surgeries, these physical changes are also coupled with fear, the compounding impact of simultaneous medical treatments or medication effects, and even possible depression or a time of stress with their partners. “I had so many emotions after my mastectomy. On one side, I was very happy to have the cancer ‘out’ of me even if it was cut out,” Mary reminisced. “But, on the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before I became comfortable with ‘my new normal.’”
    We have built our practice on a foundation of understanding patients’ medical and emotional needs related to surgeries including those resulting from cancer. After a patient receives the news that a mastectomy is an option, the patient can have their general surgeon call our office right away, or the patient herself can call to schedule a consultation. Our focus is on ensuring the patient truly understands the options available to her, including what the short- and long-term results are of full mastectomy, partial mastectomy, and other surgical options. If a mastectomy is selected, we continue to work in close partnership with the patient and her general surgeon along the way.
    Before going through breast surgery, it’s important to prepare yourself as much as possible. If you’re faced with possible breast surgery due to cancer, consider the following:
• Talk with your surgeon about seeing photos of what the surgery site will look like — immediately after surgery and long-term. This may help you be ready for the visible differences, building your acceptance and reducing your surprise.
• Be sure you are fully informed about breast reconstruction options.
• Ask how your breast surgical site and breasts in general will change over time.
• Learn as much as you can about the steps you can take to help your body heal with the best results.
• Most importantly, know that you are the same person after the surgery as you were before. You hold the same roles in life, have the same occupation and hobbies, and are surrounded by the same family and friends who love you.

    The board-certified plastic surgeons at Twin City Plastic Surgery bring you the latest procedures and newest technologies, along with the attentive care and comfort you deserve. For more information on any procedure, you may contact
Dr. Laura Randolph — 309-664-6222, Dr. Chad Tattini — 309-664-1007, or Dr. Paige Holt — 309-664-4444 at Twin City Plastic Surgery or twincityplasticsurgery.com. Their office is located at 2502 E. Empire in

*Name changed for privacy.
**Firestone, L. (2012). Changing your body image once and for all. Psychology Today, Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com, Nov. 21, 2013.



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