Planning for Reconstruction

Looking to Your Future

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Breast reconstruction depends on your own individual case, including factors like your medical condition, general health, lifestyle and emotional state as well as breast size and shape. You should consult your surgeon to discuss your personal goals for breast reconstruction. Consult your family, friends, breast implant support groups and breast cancer support groups – people who have been through it – to help you make the right decision.

What is the optimal time in your treatment to have your breast implant reconstruction?

The answers below apply to reconstruction following mastectomy, but similar considerations apply to reconstruction following breast trauma or reconstruction for congenital anomalies. The breast reconstruction process may begin at the time of your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) or months to years afterwards (delayed reconstruction). This decision is made after consultation with your cancer treatment team based on your individual situation.
Immediate reconstruction may involve placement of a breast implant, but typically involves placement of a tissue expander, which is used to recreate skin that was removed during your cancer operation. The tissue expander is then eventually replaced with a breast implant.

What about delayed reconstruction?

By waiting to have your reconstructive operation sometime after your mastectomy, you can delay your reconstruction decision and operation until other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, are complete. Delayed reconstruction may be advisable if your surgeon anticipates healing problems with your mastectomy or if you just need more time to consider your options.

What are other personal considerations?

There are medical, financial and emotional considerations in choosing between immediate and delayed reconstruction. These should not be taken lightly. You should discuss the options available in your individual case thoroughly with your general surgeon, reconstructive surgeon and oncologist.

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