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By Founder Elizabeth Vivenzio

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The choice of no reconstruction is not always a “choice.” It can be imposed after failed reconstructions or other medical necessities. Those women who actually choose not to reconstruct at the time of their mastectomies often state that they want to avoid additional surgeries and possible complications. Those brave women have done their homework and have the courage of their convictions.

Indeed, some of us are blindly led to breast reconstruction without understanding that it entails numerous surgeries. If you are in the unlucky group who develop complications, it can be a long and arduous road with up to a dozen surgeries in extreme cases. That is a lot of pain and recovery time that leaves some women wishing they had never started the process at all.

Although we do not want to discourage those embarking on their reconstruction journeys, it is important to know this what a minefield it can be in order to make a truly informed decision.

Living flat can be a liberating choice and one that leads to happiness and contentment…once the adjustment has been made. It is a valid choice, and more dialogue, awareness and education is needed to support the flat life.

Since my breast deconstruction (actually called explantation) in April 2013, I am now living the flat life. It has been an interesting journey down this path. There have been some bumps in the road (unfortunately not on my chest). For now, it is a very comfortable alternative for me since I had so much pain from my two failed sets of implants. I feel liberated from the pain, and my quality of living is significantly improved.

The seamy side of breast reconstruction is not readily discussed. Our future endeavors at BreastHealing.com will be to open up this dialogue and advocate for failure awareness.

The biggest decision after going flat is whether to wear prosthetic forms or not. Initially, I had decided against them because I had not worn a bra since my 2009 mastectomy, and I was not about to return to that uncomfortable harness after my deconstruction. That always seemed to be the rare benefit of mastectomy … freedom from wearing a bra!

I had had a bad experience with a mastectomy fitter while I was in the expansion process. Three weeks after my mastectomy when I started to feel a little blue, I went for some forms to help my sadness. The fitter gave me large, heavy silicone forms. They were so uncomfortable, and I have since learned that only lightweight forms should be worn during the recovery period. She was not looking out for what was best for me. In retrospect, she was just looking to sell me the $500 set even though I just needed a lightweight foam set at the time.

But, even after my implant removal I could not wear the heavy silicone prosthesis. At that point, wearing a bra was even more uncomfortable due to multiple things like nerve pain, muscle inflammation and scar tissue. However, recently I realized that I have been somewhat sad without forms. I finally found a comfortable lightweight foam solution that I use with a camisole and does not bind in sensitive areas.