Breast self-exams, or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an essential way to find breast cancer while it’s still in its earliest stages. It’s also a great way to get to understand what your breasts look and feel like so you can detect if anything is out of the ordinary. Your self-exams should be done every few weeks, in the beginning, to gain familiarity with your breasts and then monthly after that.
Dallas-based board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Bryan Armijo has first-hand experience working with breast cancer survivors and offers this advice for your first line of defense.
Why Should I Do Breast Self-Exams?
Breast self-exams can help you detect changes in the breast tissue that may be due to infection or breast cancer. These abnormalities will show themselves in the form of breast lumps or spots that feel different from the rest of the surrounding tissue. When breast cancer is detected early, the treatment can be less invasive, and the chances of survival are much higher.
While breast self-exams are important for breast health, they shouldn’t replace screening tests such as mammograms, as these are much more thorough forms of examination.
How Long Does a Self-Exam Take?
A breast self-examination only takes a few minutes and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. You can do a breast exam when you’re:
- Taking a shower
- Lying in bed in the morning or at bedtime
- While getting dressed for the day
What are the Steps of a Breast Self-Exam?
- Visual inspection: With your shirt and bra off, stand facing the mirror with your arms down at your sides. Look for any changes in breast shape, breast swelling, dimpled skin, or changes to the nipples. Next, raise your arms high overhead and look for the same things. Finally, put your hands on your hips and press firmly to get your chest muscles to flex while looking for the same changes. Be sure to examine both breasts.
- Physical Examination: With your shirt and bra off, use the pads of your three middle fingers to press every part of one breast. Use light pressure, then medium, followed by firm. Feel for any lumps, thick spots, or other changes. A circular pattern may help you make sure you examine every area. Then, do the same underneath the arm. Be sure to check under the areola (pigmented skin that surrounds the nipple) and squeeze the nipple gently to check for any discharge. Repeat these steps on the other breast.
Breast Reconstruction in Dallas, Texas
Breast cancer affects one in every eight women in the United States alone. Many of these women go on to live healthy, happy lives after their treatment. Following a lumpectomy (surgical removal of a lump) or mastectomy (surgical removal of a breast,) many patients have the option of pursuing breast reconstruction surgery to restore their breast. Breast reconstruction has helped many women heal physically and emotionally by significantly providing them with a renewed sense of wholeness.
Dr. Bryan Armijo is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Dallas, Texas, who has personal experience with breast cancer after having several survivors of the illness in his family. He understands the profound difference reconstructive surgery can make in a person’s life and built his profession on restoring hope to his patients.
For more information about breast reconstruction in Dallas, Texas, contact us at 214-540-1434 or complete our online form to schedule your consultation.