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Risk-reducing surgery is a big step to take and it can cause many different emotions and feelings.
There may be a sense of relief when the surgery is over, but it can still take some time for you to get used to your new appearance.
You will already have had a lot to cope with, such as learning that your family has a strong history of breast cancer, and worrying about your own children and other members of your family. Some women feel the emotional effects more than others.
Since I’ve had the genetic test and I’ve had the surgery I have a completely liberated view on life. I live life absolutely fully. Wendy
Since I’ve had the genetic test and I’ve had the surgery I have a completely liberated view on life. I live life absolutely fully.
Many women say that their anxiety about developing breast cancer is greatly reduced by having risk-reducing breast surgery. In fact, many would recommend surgery to women in a similar situation to themselves. However, they may still have feelings of loss for their previous appearance and sense of health.
There are people and organisations that can help you talk through and deal with any feelings and emotions you may have.
Your breast care nurse can discuss your situation with you, and you can also contact one of the organisations listed in our database|.
Having breast surgery may affect your sex life and how you see yourself as a woman (self image). This often gradually improves with time.
Try not to think that sex can’t be as important in your life as it was before the surgery. There will often be a period of adjustment for you and your partner, and with time most difficulties can be overcome.
You may feel insecure and worry whether or not your partner will still find you sexually attractive. Partners are often concerned about how to express their love physically and emotionally after a woman has had breast surgery. They may not have a problem with your changed appearance, so it can help to try to discuss it if you feel that there’s awkwardness between you.
Cuddles, kisses and massages are affectionate and sensual ways of showing how much you care for someone, even if you don’t feel like having sex. You can wait until you and your partner feel ready – there’s no right or wrong time. If you feel very self-conscious, making love while partly dressed or keeping the lighting low may be better for you.
If you’ve had breast reconstruction| this will create a breast shape but the sensations in the breast and the nipple will not be the same as before the original breast surgery. This can affect sexual arousal if you were previously aroused by having your breasts touched. Although this can take time to adjust to, with the support of your partner you will still be able to enjoy a fulfilling sex life.
Whether you decide to go ahead with risk-reducing breast surgery or not, you may want to choose to make positive lifestyle changes to improve your health.
Positive lifestyle changes include eating well, keeping to a healthy weight, being physically active, sticking to alcohol drinking guidelines and stopping smoking.
Find out more about how you can maintain a healthy lifestyle|.
You can also get advice from your GP or specialist nurse.
Content last reviewed: 1 September 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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