Do you want to understand why Angelina Jolie opted for a double mastectomy and whether you might similarly be at risk of cancer? This article will help you understand.
Angelina Jolie is a world-famous Hollywood celebrity. If you follow her in the industry, you must know that she had a double mastectomy done in 2013. She considered having this surgery done because of her family history.
Angelina Jolie’s mother had breast cancer, and she died at the age of 56 while battling cancer. Her mother fought against cancer for nearly ten years.
Her doctors informed Angelina Jolie that she had a 50% risk of developing ovarian cancer and an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. Cancer risk is different for different women as other factors help determine the risk. When Angelina knew about these percentages, she opted for a double mastectomy surgery.
If you also have a similar family history or similar risk percentage, you might also be thinking about opting for this elective surgery. This article will cover all the necessary information and details on whether you should go for a double mastectomy or not.
What is Double Mastectomy
It is the name of a medical procedure used to prevent breast cancers. A mastectomy is the partial or complete removal of one breast, whereas a double mastectomy is the partial or total removal of both breasts surgically.
Why Angelina Opted For Double Mastectomy
Angelina Jolie had to opt for a double mastectomy as her genes are unique as they have a special component known as the BRCA1. This gene is responsible for accelerating the chances and increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in females.
Although a tiny percentage of the people who have breast cancer suffer from it because of a gene mutation, the people with the BRCA1 gene are at very high risk. About 65% of the people with this gene develop breast cancer at some stage of life.
This made Angelina act quickly to prevent her from suffering from such problems. She decided to go for the double mastectomy before the ovarian cancer surgery as she had a higher risk of developing breast cancer than ovarian cancer.
Another primary reason for this was that double mastectomy surgery is more complex and complicated than treating ovarian cancer.
Should You Consider The Elective Surgery
Whether you should consider getting this surgery done depends on your ancestry and genetics. If your family members have had a history of people who have breast cancer, you should get a health check-up done.
Cancer is a medical term that strikes fear into every person’s heart. However, nowadays, the technology is so advanced that you can know the probability of suffering from a specific type of cancer with just the help of a simple blood test.
If the results suggest that you get an elective surgery with a higher risk percentage, then you should opt for this elective surgery.
Similarly, if your genes have specific compounds that make you more vulnerable to cancer, you should also opt for these elective surgeries. Some people may opt for this surgery because their favorite celebrity has had it or someone suggested that they get this surgery done, but this is a foolish idea.
Doctors recommend that every female doesn’t have to get an elective surgery done as, for them, the risk of suffering from breast or ovarian cancer may be less than 3%.
Women will need to understand that health trends are very different from fashion trends, you can follow the fashion trends set by the celebrities blindly, but you cannot blindly follow their health trends.
Double Mastectomy Recovery
Typically, people stay for about two to three days in the hospital after double mastectomy surgery. Your stay in the hospital can increase depending on if your surgery also includes breast reconstruction. You can also perform some physical exercises to reduce the strain and stiffness in your body after the surgery.
After reaching home, you will also need to take proper care of your body. Don’t forget to take the proper medication at the correct time. Most likely, these medicines will be antibiotics and painkillers. These medicines will prevent the development of any infection and reduce your pain.
Dressing the wound
Another essential step to maintaining hygiene and preventing infection is regularly changing the dressing or bandages. You can follow the instructions of the nurse or the surgeon to know the proper method of removing and applying the bandages.
If you have a surgical drain on your body after the surgery, you will need to take extra care of it. Try not to touch or disturb the drain as much as possible, and if you follow this, the drain may work fine for the first follow-up visit.
If you have to visit the nurse after one or two weeks, you will have to empty and clean the drain yourself. Be careful while cleaning the drain, as it could hurt you if you are not careful.
Most probably, surgeons will use stitches that dissolve over time, meaning you will not have to revisit the doctors to get them removed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a double mastectomy take?
A double mastectomy is a longer procedure than a single mastectomy, as in a double mastectomy, you will get both breasts removed partially or completely. A simple surgery can take about six to eight hours without reconstruction.
This surgery is often done in multiple sittings, where the first sitting is done to get you prepared for the surgery.
The second sitting usually has the primary removal surgery, and the third sitting is done for the reconstruction of the breasts along with the implants. You can return to your regular life just after a few days of the surgery.
Why do people need to have a double mastectomy?
People who are very vulnerable to breast cancer usually go for double mastectomy surgery. People that also have the gene BRCA1 in their body have to go for this surgery as this gene increases the risk of suffering from breast cancer by a lot.
One such famous example of this condition is Angelina Jolie, and she has the BRCA1 in her body, due to which her risk of suffering from breast cancer was around 90%. She opted for a double mastectomy surgery, which reduced this risk to less than 5%.
Can mothers breastfeed after a mastectomy?
Yes, mothers can still breastfeed their children only if they have had a single mastectomy. A single breast produces more than enough milk for their children, so it should not be a problem if you have had a single mastectomy.
But if you have had a double mastectomy, then you will not be able to breastfeed your children. You would then have to depend on other artificial types of feeding methods for your children.
A double mastectomy is not a simple surgery; it is a complicated procedure that removes a woman’s breasts to get rid of cancer.
You might take 3 to 4 weeks to recover after the surgery, but full recovery might take a few more weeks. The common side effects are limited hand and shoulder movement, pain, and swelling in the operated region.
If you go through this surgery soon, we wish you luck. Do share your experience with us for the benefit of all our readers. And if you have any further queries, please drop us a note in the comments section.