Breast Reconstruction forBreast Cancer Patients
What is breast reconstruction?
In breast reconstruction, a reconstructive surgeon (surgeon trained in plastic surgery) recreates all or part of a breast that has been surgically removed. This is done using an implant or tissue from another part of your body. The goal of reconstruction is to make breasts look natural and balanced when you are wearing clothing.
Can I have breast reconstruction?
You may be able to have breast reconstruction, if you have been:
• Diagnosed with breast cancer and had or will have a mastectomy (surgical removal of a breast)
• Diagnosed with breast cancer and had or will have breast conservation surgery, such as partial mastectomy or lumpectomy (surgical removal of the tumor and surrounding breast tissue)
• Found to have a genetic mutation and will have prophylactic mastectomy (removal of non-cancerous breast to prevent cancer)
With improved treatment plans, breast reconstruction techniques and new medical devices, you now have many options. Surgeons can recreate a breast at the time of mastectomy or after you have had a mastectomy. They can also correct misshapen breasts that may result after breast conservation surgery.
Do I have to have breast reconstruction?
No. Some patients decide that they are not ready to have reconstruction for many reasons. Or, they decide not to have any more surgeries. Many may choose to wear a breast prosthesis (an artificial device to replace a missing part of the body). This allows a better fit in clothing and reduces the lop-sided feeling that a missing breast or breast tissue may create for some after their breast cancer surgery. Living a long cancer-free life is our goal. Keeping your femininity is just as important, too.
When can I have breast reconstruction?
Most breast reconstructions can be done at the same time as your mastectomy. It is called immediate reconstruction. (Figure 1)
Reconstruction can also be done weeks, months or years later. This is called delayed reconstruction. It is done
The choice to have immediate versus delayed reconstruction depends on many factors including:
• Breast cancer stage
• Your medical condition
• Your preference and lifestyle
• Additional therapies (such as radiation) needed to treat the breast cancer
The table on page 3 provides advantages and disadvantages of immediate and delayed reconstruction to help you decide which is best for you.