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Breast reconstruction after breast cancer surgery

Reconstructive options after breast cancer surgery whether all of the breast tissue is removed in the form of a mastectomy or only a small portion in a partial mastectomy have improved tremendously over the years. We have seen advancements in each of the different techniques we use. The implants are more cohesive so they maintain their form while still feeling soft like a natural breast. The techniques of using your own tissue in the form of a flap or rearrangement of breast tissue to fill small defects are more sophisticated. Thus enabling us to provide an excellent natural reconstruction along with an attractive aesthetic result.

Keep in mind that the reconstructed breast will still have subtle differences from the original breast. The reconstructed breast may be slightly smaller or bigger in terms of volume. Sometimes these differences are planned in that the reconstructed breast may be rounder and lifted. Sensation to the reconstructed breast after a mastectomy is diminished but returns to some extent after the nerves begin to regenerate. The desired outcome of the reconstructions still mirror the look and feel of a natural breast as much as possible. The goals of breast reconstruction are to obtain an aesthetically pleasing breast that is soft, feels and looks natural.

Other things to think about when considering a reconstruction is timing of the reconstruction. A reconstruction can be performed in the immediate setting meaning at the time of the mastectomy or in a delayed setting meaning after adjuvant treatments are completed.

The choice to have a reconstruction should be an informed decision by the patient and his or her plastic surgeon. Whether the woman chooses to have a reconstruction or no reconstruction we are here to help her along this journey. We know through multiple studies that women after having breast reconstruction find a significant improvement in their quality of life, they integrate with family and friends and feel better about themselves. This is whether the reconstruction is immediate or delayed.

Questions to ask your plastic surgeon

  1. Based on your evaluation, my body type, the type of cancer and type of mastectomy planned, what technique is recommended for me?
  2. Do you think I am a better candidate for an implant or for a flap or tissue rearrangement?
  3. How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery.

Breast reconstruction in many and most cases takes a couple of operations, sometimes more to get the desired end result. If only one breast is affected and undergoes mastectomy and reconstruction while the other breast which is not affected may benefit from an operation in the form of a breast lift, a breast reduction or a breast augmentation to improve the symmetry, shape and position of both breasts.

There are plenty of resources for patients to gather more information or to verify the conversation between surgeon and patient. There are a number of reputable websites, patient groups, and organizations, and we recommend patients to visit these sites and become involved with other women that have undergone the same journey.