If you need a mastectomy, you have a choice about whether or not to have surgery to rebuild the shape of the breast. Instead of breast reconstruction, you could choose to wear a breast form that replaces the breast, wear padding inside your bra, or do nothing. All of these options have pros and cons. What is right for one woman may not be right for another.
Breast reconstruction may be done at the same time as the mastectomy, or it may be done later on. If radiation therapy is part of the treatment plan, your doctor may suggest waiting until after radiation therapy.
If you're thinking about breast reconstruction, talk to a plastic surgeon before the mastectomy, even if you plan to have your reconstruction later on.
A surgeon can reconstruct the breast in many ways. Some women choose to have breast implants, which are filled with saline or silicone gel. Another method uses tissue taken from another part of your body. The plastic surgeon can take skin, muscle, and fat from your lower abdomen, back, or buttocks.
The type of reconstruction that is best for you depends on your age, body type, and the type of cancer surgery that you had. A plastic surgeon can help you decide.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
- Breast Reconstruction Alternatives (American Cancer Society)
- Breast Reconstruction and Prosthesis (Susan G. Komen for the Cure) - PDF Available in Spanish
- Choosing a Breast Reconstruction Surgeon and Questions to Ask (American Cancer Society)
- Risks of Breast Implants (Food and Drug Administration)
- Silicone Gel-Filled Breast Implants: Updated Safety Information (Food and Drug Administration)
- Breast Implants: Saline vs. Silicone (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Breast Reconstruction Options (American Cancer Society)
- Breast Reconstruction with Breast Implants (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Breast Reconstruction with Flap Surgery (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Preparing for Breast Reconstruction Surgery (American Cancer Society)
- Should I Have Breast Reconstruction? (American Cancer Society)
- What to Expect After Breast Reconstruction Surgery (American Cancer Society)
Videos and Tutorials
- Breast Reconstruction with Tissue Expansion (OR-Live) - Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY, 7/31/2008
- Breast Reconstruction: Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (OR-Live) - Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY, 1/11/2008