Waiting for breast reconstruction, a psychological problem

The breast reconstruction after cancer can be a very long and bumpy process for women who suffer from it, as the psycho-oncologist of the Spanish Association Against Cancer, Mireia Golobardes, told Efe.

The psycho-oncologist has recalled that there are women who undergo reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy or leave the operating room with a prosthesis, but there are other cases in which doctors consider that it is preferable not to do it all the time and the second operation is postpones.

The waiting time

According to a study by the Catalan Society of Reconstructive and Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, one in three patients in waiting list for a breast reconstruction it takes between one and two years to be able to operate in a Catalan public hospital, a fact that causes a great mood wear for the emotional implication that the loss of a breast supposes. Despite this, the figures are improving and in the last five years the waiting time has been reduced by almost half in public health.

“Psychologically, waiting time is complicated because you don’t finish close the cycle of disease“, explained Golobardes. It is a hard emotional moment, since after mastectomy women “have a great desire to look good physically”, a fact that inevitably has repercussions on the emotional aspect, on the self esteem And in the Couple relationships, added Golobardes.

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the new image

Gemma Eixarch, 49, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2019 and not only had to deal with cancer, but also suffered from the hospital pressure situation due to covid. “You have to learn to see the image that is reflected in the mirror, you have to become friends with it: the first day you cry a lot, but it is part of the rules of the game; if you don’t cry, bad“, has confessed to Efe.

Golobardes assures that the breast mastectomy “is a loss” important that requires a grieving process and defends that if the operation were done instantly, the patient “would avoid the step of seeing herself without a breast”. “The ideal would be to leave the first operating room with a prosthesis,” says Gemma Eixarch, although for this “you would have to be in the operating room for 20 hours.” In addition, reconstructions are sometimes medically not allowed to advance.

She had already undergone reconstruction in April 2020, but a year later the surgeon told her that it had not turned out as he expected and offered to go through the operating room again. “When I got home and saw myself, it was not what I imagined,” recalls the affected, who also assumes that “now I know that I have a breast that will fall and another that is not a breast, which is a lump“.

Doubts about the second operation

At the moment when they proposed a second operation, he doubted whether to undergo surgery again or not, thinking about everything that it means to enter the operating room, especially due to postoperative periods that are hard. Finally, after being encouraged by her husband and her sister, she agreed to the operation, which is scheduled to be done before March 2022. “There are still days when I get up and think about saying goodbye to the plastic surgeon”, although other days reconsider and rectify: “Don’t let cancer take away your desire to see yourself better”.

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Golobardes has advised each woman to “assess her rhythm” and has explained that “wanting to be in a hurry” and that there are these moments of emotional ups and downs waiting are something logical and habitual. The decision to undergo reconstruction is not usually easy and the waiting period generates, if possible, more doubts; “As time stretches out, enthusiasm cools“, explained Eixarch. “There are people who at an initial moment really want to have reconstruction, but time goes by and in the end they get so used to it that they don’t want to have surgery again, they are fine as they are“, added the psycho-oncologist.

The ones that most undergo this surgery are young people for, according to Golobardes, “an intimate and sexual theme of the couple”, in a decision that they can sometimes make more “facing the outside” than for themselves. However, there are people who look good from the beginning or adapt in a very short time to their new image.

In general, the old people They tend less to have these reconstructions, since they are more likely to have a stable partner and prefer to avoid another operation, according to the psycho-oncologist.

breaking the taboo

Golobardes has indicated that before people considered breast reconstruction a complicated and dangerous operation, while now there is no such sense of danger or “strange thing”. Furthermore, there is currently “less taboo feeling” when seeing a person without a breast and external facilities have been developed that help you not have to show as much, such as swimsuits with built-in prostheses.

Sometimes, the loss process “can go well” to put things in their place and “digest” the stages of the disease: “that they recognize that they can feel good without the breast even if they want to have it, that they value themselves without it” Golobardes concludes.

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