Important Questions to Ask Before a Mastectomy
Mastectomies are an important procedure you may need if you receive a breast cancer diagnosis. These surgeries involve removing the breasts, and sometimes reconstructing them, to slow the progression of the disease. You may also get one to prevent the disease altogether. The decision to undergo a mastectomy isn’t simple, and it’s crucial that you get all the information prior to committing. Whether you plan this procedure to treat or prevent breast cancer, make sure you discuss these important questions to ask before a mastectomy.
What Are My Treatment Options?
It can be difficult to know what treatment options would benefit you the most when you just begin your journey. The possibilities can seem daunting, and which actions you should take are not always clear. It’s at this time when you need as much information as you can get, so you need to utilize any resources available to you. Some of these sources might include your primary physician, scientific medical studies, support groups, and the surgeons themselves.
These resources allow you to gather the data you need to make informed decisions about your treatment and care. You should also reach out to several different sources to compare information. A well-rounded knowledge of your options will supply you with the tools to make these difficult decisions, and it will give you confidence in your fight against the disease. Depending on your specific case, you may find it more effective to try radiation, chemo, or hormonal therapies before you commit to a mastectomy. Regardless of which treatment methods you choose, it’s crucial that you pursue the ones you feel the most comfortable with.
What About the Procedure Itself?
If you’re strongly considering a mastectomy, obtaining the basic information about the procedure is key to easing some of your pre-surgery stress. In knowing what will take place, how it will be done, and who will perform the task, you can deal with concrete facts and lessen any fear of the unknown. For the most reassurance, clarify each step of the process, as well as how to prepare yourself in the days before the surgery, with your doctor or surgeon.
You may also want to use this time to ask about reconstruction and whether it’s an option with the type of mastectomy you will receive. This will allow you to further customize your treatment to fit your health and cosmetic needs. It will also help inform you of the steps following the surgery, and it will mentally prepare you for the outcome.
Some more detailed questions to ask also include:
- Will I need blood transfusions?
- How long will the surgery take?
- Which type of mastectomy will I receive?
- Will the lymph nodes under my arm be removed?
What Are the Risks and Potential Side Effects?
As hard it is to talk about, you must talk to your surgeon about the risks of getting a mastectomy and how it could affect your body post-surgery. Make sure you ask about potential swelling, pain, and health issues stemming from the physical trauma. This will allow you to prepare for these possible outcomes, and it gives you a chance to learn how to mitigate your symptoms.
If you have any preexisting health issues, you should also ask about how the surgery could affect them. Unfortunately, these procedures can cause side effects related to your current health ailments, and it’s encouraged that you check with your primary doctor before committing to this treatment. Whether you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, make sure to clarify that you’re stable enough for a mastectomy.
For more in-depth information about the post-surgery stages, questions you can also ask include:
- What will my scars look like?
- Can I see pictures of typical results?
- Will I be at risk for lymphedema after surgery?
- Will I be in a lot of pain after surgery?
Who is My Surgeon?
Additional questions to ask before a mastectomy should revolve around the surgeon and how they conduct their procedures. This might include asking about their history in the field, how many mastectomies they’ve performed, and what type of anesthesia they typically use. Though many individuals may feel like they’re prying with these questions, it’s essential that you feel safe in their care and reassured that they know how to do their job well.
You should also inquire about hospital policy and post-mastectomy procedures. This often includes how long they’ll keep you for observation, what medications you can’t take prior to the treatment, and what recovery tools they will provide to you. Once you know these things, you can more effectively plan for your recovery once back at home.
How Do I Prepare for Post-Op Recovery?
The road to recovery after your mastectomy is often one of the most difficult parts of the entire process. You must come to terms with your new body, so it’s essential that you have the tools and knowledge you need to make the healing process as efficient as possible. Clarify with your surgeon what supplies you’ll need, as well as how to use them. This can often be one of the most effective ways to put you in touch with the proper pain relief products.
Many patients also ask about their activity levels during this time and how soon they can resume their everyday activities. While you’ll have to adopt a routine of rest, you could also ask for a regimen on non-strenuous exercises to keep you active in the later stages of recovery. You should also notify your caregiver of this information so that they know how best to help you through this process. Though this stage can physically and emotionally drain you, gaining the answers to all your questions can help you approach recovery in the ways that work best for you.
The post-surgery phase of your treatment can often seem more terrifying than the procedure itself. The days spent recovering can seem long, and it’s important you get all the assistance you need in this difficult time. That’s why we committed ourselves at The Brobe to supplying you with quality mastectomy clothes to assist you in the healing process.