It's important to understand that nearly
every woman treated for breast cancer has choices. After
a mastectomy (an operation to remove the breast), some
women decide to wear a breast form (prosthesis). Others
prefer to have breast reconstruction, plastic surgery that
rebuilds the shape of a breast. This surgery is not a risk
factor for the recurrence of breast cancer, and has no
negative effect on the treatment of disease. It can be
done at the same time as the mastectomy or several months
or even years after. Usually, a plastic surgeon performs
Breast reconstruction is major surgery, with the risks,
discomforts, and recuperation period of most major surgery.
It does not give you back your breast, nor will a reconstructed
breast have natural sensation. But it can be a powerfully
positive force in the psychological and emotional recovery
of a woman who has had a mastectomy.
The plastic surgeons’ goal in breast reconstruction is to help you look and feel as natural
as possible, as painlessly as possible.
Among other things, this means both breasts should look the same,
having the same size and shape.
Procedures to Reconstruct the Breast
Several different procedures can be used to reconstruct the
breast. Some use implants,
a silicone shell filled with either a saline (salt water) solution
or a silicone gel. Others use a “flap” of tissue
from another part of the body, such as the abdomen or back, either
alone or with an implant. The major procedures
No procedure is necessarily “better” than another;
the choice depends on each woman's individual circumstances.
In some cases, a particular procedure may not be medically
appropriate. For example, women who have had a skin-sparing
mastectomy need to choose one of the “flap”; procedures;
choose a tissue expander or a breast
Obviously, you should consult with your doctors to help you decide
which procedure to have, if any, and when. It’s best to do
this before the mastectomy, even if reconstruction won't
be considered until later.
More information about breast cancer
You can find out more about breast reconstruction by visiting the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or any of the following organizations: