Body image and self-esteem after breast cancer

Woman looking in a mirror

Body image refers to how you think about your body and the way you look. After breast cancer treatment, surgery scars, weight loss or gain, skin changes, hair loss or regrowth can change the way you feel about your body. Some women develop lymphoedema (swelling) after surgery or radiotherapy to lymph nodes in the armpit. 

Changes to your body can make you feel less of a woman or affect your confidence and self-esteem. You may find you avoid situations where people might comment on your appearance or be reluctant to have intimate contact or sex.

You may think that your partner finds you less attractive, which may not be the case at all. He or she may be looking for a way to help you but feel unsure where to start. A word from you, even if you find it embarrassing or hard at first, might make all the difference. Read more about sex after breast cancer treatment.

Take time also to explore other ways to be intimate with your partner and so get used to your new body image. Read more about managing sexual relationships.

If you need more information call our Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700 or call into a Daffodil Centre. 

Breast reconstruction

Some women find breast reconstruction helps them to cope with changes to their body image, self-esteem or sexuality following surgery. You can have breast reconstruction straight after surgery or months or years later. It is important that any decision you make is right for you. 

If you would like more information, visit our breast reconstruction page or download our booklet Understanding Breast Reconstruction:

Understanding Breast Reconstruction booklet
Understanding Breast Reconstruction booklet
This booklet has been written to help you learn more about breast reconstruction. It is aimed at people who have breast cancer and are considering breast reconstruction surgery.

For more information

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1800 200 700

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