Roughly 60 percent of women who undergo a mastectomy will opt to have reconstructive surgery to recover the familiar “look” of having breasts. However, there’s a growing movement toward going “flat” after a mastectomy.
The six women in the video below all chose to go flat after breast cancer. And, as it turns out, there might be some good reasons to join them.
For some women, like Melanie Testa, having breast reconstruction or wearing breast forms can feel like a lie. “I just don’t want to present two bodies,” she says. “I don’t want to walk out of my home with a breasted body and then return to my home and remove my breast and then have a flat body.”
For others, breast reconstruction simply isn’t an option, or at least it isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds. Cost can be a factor, or health issues may make any additional surgeries too risky. Marianne Duquette Quoso wanted implants and got them—but after several infections, she became one of the roughly 20 percent of women whose implants cause issues for them, and she decided to have them removed. Those who have post-reconstruction issues but choose to keep their implants may have trouble sleeping on their stomachs, deal with multiple infections, or experience other complications and discomfort.
Modern breast implants are often praised for looking and feeling real, but these ladies say they don’t always feel real (or even good) from the inside. Samantha West says, “In terms of sexuality, scars are very tender things. There’s feeling in my chest, and it’s still an erogenous zone, which doesn’t happen with implants.”
Dr. Deborah Axelrod says she believes the majority of women will still prefer reconstruction over going flat in the future. “We feel that if we’re going to take a body part off, that we should then replace it with something that looks just as good,” she says. “It’s the image of our bodies. We want to be whole.”
It should be each individual woman’s choice whether or not to have reconstructive surgery, but we can’t help but applaud the message the “going flat” movement sends to the world. Melanie sums it up by saying, “My body is good enough.”
Rebecca Pine adds, “Beauty is something in the mind and in the heart. We’re just as feminine, we’re just as much women as we were beforehand.”
Learn more about the brave women below and their incredible stories in the video below.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?