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With advances in breast reconstruction surgery, many women undergoing breast removal choose to have their breast(s) rebuilt. Even though medical, surgical, and radiation therapy treatments for breast cancer have increased the number of breast-sparing procedures available, some breast cancer patients may still need a mastectomy (removal of the breast(s)). In addition, a woman may have her breast(s) removed due to other diseases.
Considering Reconstructive Breast Surgery
The decision to have reconstructive breast surgery is a very personal one. It depends a lot on how you think you will feel after a mastectomy. If you might feel uncomfortable with a flat chest or wearing a false breast (called a prosthesis), you may want to consider reconstructive surgery. Or you may choose not to have any extra surgery. Reconstructive surgery can be done at the time of your mastectomy or scheduled at a later date. You may also need more than one operation to complete the reconstruction.
The goal of the surgery is to create a breast mound that matches the opposite breast and achieve symmetry. If both breasts have been removed, the goal of breast reconstructive surgery is to create both breast mounds approximately the size of the patient's natural breasts. One of the techniques used for breast reconstruction is called flap reconstruction. Learn more about flap reconstruction.
Factors to Consider When Scheduling Surgery
If you are thinking of having reconstructive surgery, your doctor can tell you whether reconstruction is an option and what type of reconstructive surgery might work best for you. Talk with your doctor about these and other issues before you have your mastectomy:
- Your emotional and psychological well-being - Some experts think that waking up from a mastectomy with the reconstruction already done is less traumatic than waking up without a breast.
- Any other treatments you are having - If you are having radiation after surgery, you may need to postpone reconstructive surgery. Radiation following reconstruction can increase the complications after surgery.
- Recovery time - Having reconstructive surgery at the same time as your mastectomy may mean you’ll recover faster.
- Results of the reconstruction - The reconstruction may look better if it’s done right away.
- Condition of your skin - If your skin isn’t ready for the stretching that goes on during reconstruction, you may have to have the procedure later on. For example, the skin of women who smoke or have diabetes may need extra healing time before reconstruction.
To determine if breast reconstruction is the right decision for you, please schedule an appointment with one of our plastic and reconstructive surgery specialists.