Plastic surgeons who specialize in breast reconstruction are a special breed of people. Most surgeons do work that is never seen after they finish, they go in and repair what has gone wrong, and then the work is completely hidden underneath the closed skin. The work of a general plastic surgeon will be seen, but typically, they are just enhancing what already exists and the process can be relatively quick and rewarding for both the patient and the surgeon.
A patient facing breast reconstruction comes from a broken and often very frightening and uncertain place. The surgeon must rebuild from the ground up what has been lost, much as an artist must begin their masterpiece with the first stroke of the brush. The patient must deal with emotions and challenges they never imagined. It is a painstaking process that does not have instant gratification on either side. Breast reconstruction requires vulnerability, patience, trust, and time. It requires not only physical healing, but mental as well.
Breast reconstruction surgeons have to be dedicated and compassionate, its not just a one-day deal with their patients, it is a relationship. Except it is a relationship that has to work backwards. In life, most relationships start off easy and fun, no expectations. It isn’t until later that conflicts or struggles occur and then the relationship is tested. In this relationship, the patient is coming in at the most difficult time of their life and must trust the surgeon to bring them back to a place of hope and vitality.
I think there is a movement in the world of breast cancer to expose the “dark side” and let the world know that its not all about pink ribbons, that there has to be a level of grit and toughness to have mastered the art of surviving. While I agree with this to some extent, I do feel like women facing the loss of their natural breasts should still have the opportunity to have their feeling of femininity restored, if they so choose. Women should still be able to wear clothing that makes them feel pretty without fear or shame, they should be able to feel like their body is normal and beautiful. My hope is that through the efforts of these amazing surgeons who dedicate their entire professional lives to women in need of breast reconstruction, more women will become aware of the options they have. I hope they can realize they don’t have to be left only with vicious scars to remind them of what they lost, but renewing scars that remind them of the life they still have left to live.