Spotlight on: Breast Reconstruction Guidebook

Breast Reconstruction Guide 3coverIn 2006, when making my decision about prophylactic mastectomies, there was one book that was essential in teaching me what I needed to know and what I had no idea was even possible.

Kathy Steligo’s Breast Reconstruction Guidebook is now in its third edition and is even wiser and more comprehensive. This valuable book remains the Holy Grail for women making decisions about breast surgery.

Kathy has designed the guide to be user friendly and personal. Hundreds of pictures, testimonials, vignettes and doctor interviews line the pages. She offers comparisons of one procedure’s nuances to another in an easy-to-read table format. For example, if you decide with your physician that implant reconstruction is the best choice for you, the guide explains how this can mean very different operations at different hospitals or even by doctors within the hospital. Is it one-step or multiple steps with a tissue expander? These sorts of questions may be the type that you don’t even think of asking. It’s important to have such a valuable resource to help you formulate questions for your doctor, and Kathy not only explains difficult concepts but also introduces new ideas that may have been overlooked.

The book is logically laid out in four parts and is very easy to read:

Part 1: Decision: Mastectomy discusses the mastectomy you have chosen to have. There are different types of mastectomies and different approaches. Some doctors will steer you toward saving your nipples, for example, and others will explain why they should be removed. All of this is discussed in detail in Kathy Steligo’s book and it helps arm you with questions that are relevant to your situation so that you can be a more informed patient.

Part 2: Reconstructive Procedure presents a complete list of reconstructive options, many of which you may have never even imagined. For example, reconstructive surgeons are so clever that they can take your abdominal fat and/or muscle and make a breast out of it! In this case, a tummy tuck is the side effect of the surgery. For some women, this is a silver lining.

Part 3: Prep, Pre-op, Post-Op and Beyond gets you ready for your surgery with information about everything from packing your bag (remember your BFFLBag) and getting your home ready to post-op bras options.

Part 4: Finding Answers and Asking Questions includes a question and problem section that brings up just about every possible situation that could occur (and has occurred for other women), and is helpful without being intimidating. The section also offers advice on how to find the right doctor as well as dealing with both financial issues and family and friends. I found it easy to skip around and look at the sections relevant to my own situation rather than read it cover to cover.

If your doctor does not give you a copy of this book, I strongly encourage you to get one! Some doctors, like my own Dr. C.A. Salzberg, give a copy to every one of his patients—a brilliant idea, in my opinion. It saves everyone phone calls and confusion and makes both the doctors and patients a lot more comfortable.

Kathy Steligo’s Breast Reconstruction Guidebook is a gem, and you owe it to yourself to have it at your fingertips if you’re facing breast surgery. In the unlikely event that you can’t find your answer in Kathy’s book, post a question on the BFFL Co facebook page and we’ll pass it along to her!!

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