About Your Options
Every woman reacts to the loss of a breast in a very personal way, and her reaction
can depend on a variety of elements in her life. Here are a few things for you to
consider as you research breast reconstruction:
- How important is recreating your breast to you?
- Can you live with non-surgical alternatives that aren’t part of your body?
- Do you feel you need surgical breast reconstruction to feel “normal” again?
Learning more about your options can help you make those decisions.
Each procedure is individualised and the options, desires, and anatomy of each woman
differ greatly. The best reconstructive options take this into account.
- 75% of women who have mastectomies go on to have surgical reconstruction of one
or both breasts.
- Roughly half of these women decide on artificial implants and most of the rest choose
an operation called the TRAM flap, which uses their own body tissue to rebuild the
- The majority of women who are given the choice ask for immediate breast reconstruction.
Know Your Reconstruction Options
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make if you decide to have breast reconstruction
is whether to have immediate reconstruction, which is performed at the time of the
mastectomy; or delayed reconstruction, which is performed weeks, months or even
years after your mastectomy. You and your doctor can thoughtfully decide which of
these options is best for you based on your medical situation, breast shape and
size, general health, lifestyle and goals.
There are several ways your surgeon can approach your breast reconstruction:
- By the use of prosthesis such as a breast implant – silicone gel or saline-filled
- A tissue flap, which is a combination of skin, fat and/or muscle that is moved from
your stomach, back or other area of your body to the chest, where it is shaped into
a new breast. A tissue flap may also be used to provide skin or other tissue needed
to make up for what was removed at the time of your operation or changed following
- A combination of the two
It is likely you will have additional operations to improve symmetry and appearance
– whether you have reconstruction with or without breast implants.
- These additional operations may be part of a multi-stage reconstruction of the removed
breast or may be to shape the remaining breast to bring it into better balance with
the reconstructed one. Most commonly, breast implants are placed after a space has
been created for them using a temporary soft tissue expander that can be placed
at the time of your mastectomy or later.
- Nipple reconstruction is normally performed as a separate outpatient procedure after
the initial reconstruction operation is complete.
- Because the nipple and areola are usually removed with the breast tissue during
a mastectomy, the nipple is usually reconstructed by using a skin graft from another
area of the body or from the opposite breast. The area may also be tattooed to obtain
a better colour match.