Breast Cancer Reconstruction
Breast reconstruction restores one, or both, breasts to near normal shape, appearance, symmetry, and size following breast cancer surgery. It can involve more than one procedure performed in stages and can either begin at the time of mastectomy or be delayed until a later date.
Not all women choose to have reconstruction surgery. There are other options such as breast forms that can be inserted into a special bra. As with everything, however, there are pros and cons and what works for one woman may not work for another. What is important is that nearly every woman treated for breast cancer has choices.
Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as the mastectomy or later on. If radiation therapy is part of the post-surgery treatment plan, your oncologist may suggest waiting until radiation therapy is complete.
If you are thinking about breast reconstruction, you should talk to a breast surgeon specialist and possibly a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy, even if you plan to have your reconstruction later on.
Some women choose to have breast implants, which are filled with saline or silicone gel. You can read about breast implants on the Food and Drug Administration website.
Other women choose to have their breasts reconstructed with tissue that the plastic surgeon removes from another part of their body. Skin, muscle, and fat can come from your lower abdomen, back, or buttocks. The surgeon uses this tissue to create a breast shape.
Factors such as your age, body type, and the type of cancer surgery that you had will determine the type of reconstruction that is best for you. The plastic surgeon can explain the risks and benefits of each type of reconstruction.