Breast reconstruction is performed to rebuild a part or all of a woman’s breast post partial or complete mastectomy. This can be done at the time of the mastectomy (immediate) or months or years later (delayed). There a many different types of breast reconstruction. Broadly however, there are 2 groups: 1. Implant – based reconstruction or 2. Flap reconstruction (also known as autologous reconstruction). Implant reconstruction uses a breast implant to help rebuild the shape and volume of your breast. Autologous reconstruction uses your own tissue to do the same. At times a combination of both techniques will yield the best result.
During your appointment your physician will review the surgical plan from your breast surgeon and medical plan from your oncologist. Based on this information and your body they will explain the best type of breast reconstruction specifically for you. In the end you make the final decision, guided by our years of experience in this field.
It is important to remember that breast reconstruction rebuilds a woman’s breast but results vary widely.
- There will always been some type of asymmetry.
- The reconstructed breast will not have normal sensation.
- You may have visible scars on your breasts and other parts of your body
- You may require secondary procedures
- There maybe donor site morbidity such as weakness or tightness in the donor area
When breast reconstruction is done in conjunction with a mastectomy the surgery will be performed in a hospital with a 1- 3-day hospital stay. You will have drains in place when you leave the hospital. You will not be able to lift or do strenuous exercise for a variable period of time. Most patients are back to their normal daily activities including work by 4-6 weeks. Revision of the breast reconstruction is done, when needed, after completion of all medical treatments and is almost always done as an outpatient procedure.
Chances are your reconstructed breast may feel firmer and look rounder or flatter than your natural breast. It may not have the same contour as your breast before mastectomy, nor will it exactly match your opposite breast. But these differences will be apparent only to you. For most mastectomy patients, breast reconstruction dramatically improves their appearance and quality of life following surgery. The vast majority of patients undergoing reconstruction state that given the same set of circumstances they would again choose breast reconstruction.