Survivornet: “To Reconstruct or Not”

Read SurvivorNet’s Sonya Collins’ new article “To Reconstruct or Not: After Mastectomy, Two Women Take Very Different Paths

“Kathy Reed always knew that if she ever had to have a mastectomy, she would not have breast reconstruction. She would live flat. She knew this long before she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44 in 2003.”

Sonya Collins for SurvivorNet

Kathy’s surgeon, despite her confidence in her decision, left “a little extra in case you change your mind.” Sounds familiar: this is intentional flat denial. Kathy decided against additional surgery and has lived with the results of her initial surgery for over fifteen years.

“When she asked the surgeon why he hadn’t taken that tissue, ‘He said, “I left those because it’ll make it easier if you change your mind later and decide you want reconstruction. It’ll look smoother,”‘ she recalls him saying.

“… Reed never went back to have the tissue removed. ‘That would have been an extra surgery, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid.’ And now, 16 years later, she occasionally wakes from dreams where she has breasts, but she never wishes she had them in real life.”

Kathy’s surgery, where she was intentionally denied a flat closure, happened long before we had the term “aesthetic flat closure” on the books. Now, thanks to the National Cancer Institute, women can ask for the term by name to ensure their expectations are made clear and to provide a mechanism for accountability. From the article (our links):

“In fact, up to one in ten women who clearly ask to go flat are left with unnecessary and unsightly tissue.  The patient-advocacy organization ‘Not Putting on a Shirt’ advises women to ask specifically for “an aesthetic flat closure as defined by the National Cancer Institute.” Women may also show their surgeon pictures of flat-living women whose shape and scars they find acceptable. These pictures can be found at and”

Thank you SurvivorNet for highlighting Kathy’s story, and for mentioning Not Putting on a Shirt so women can access the information, tools and resources they need to advocate for their choice: aesthetic flat closure.

Read the whole article here.

#flatdenial #mybodymychoice #putflatonthemenu #aesthetic flat closure #notputtingonashirt

Published by Not Putting on a Shirt

Founder of Not Putting on a Shirt, a mastectomy patients' rights organization that advocates for optimal surgical outcomes for patients going flat.

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