Breast Reconstruction (Post-Mastectomy Surgery)

About

Breast reconstruction is a type of surgery for women who have had a breast removed (mastectomy). The surgery rebuilds the breast mound so that it is about the same size and shape as it was before. The nipple and the darker area around the nipple (areola) can also be added. Most women who have had a mastectomy can have reconstruction. Women who have had only the part of the breast around the cancer removed (lumpectomy) may not need reconstruction. Breast reconstruction is done by a plastic surgeon.

The choice to have breast reconstruction is yours to make. We hope this information will help you make your decision. Try to learn as much as you can before you decide what to do. No one source of information can give you every fact or give you all the answers. You and those close to you should talk to your health care team about any questions and concerns you have about this type of surgery.

Why have breast reconstruction?

Women choose breast reconstruction for many reasons:

  • To make their chest look balanced when they are wearing a bra or swimsuit
  • To permanently regain their breast shape
  • So they don't have to use a form that fits inside the bra (an external prosthesis)

Your body image and self-esteem may improve after your reconstruction surgery, but this is not always the case. Breast reconstruction does not fix things you were unhappy about before your surgery. Also, some women are not happy with how the reconstructed breast looks and feels after surgery. You and those close to you must know the facts about what to expect from reconstruction.

There are often many options to think about as you and your doctors talk about what is best for you. The reconstruction process often means one or more operations. Talk about the benefits and risks of reconstruction with your doctors before the surgery is planned. Give yourself plenty of time to make the best decision for you. You should decide about breast reconstruction only after you are fully informed.