Also known as reconstructive mammaplasty or postmastectomy surgery
Breast reconstruction includes a variety of procedures performed to restore the form and shape of the breast, following mastectomy or lumpectomy surgery. Factors such as individual anatomy, aesthetic goals and the need for any postsurgical chemotherapy or radiation will determine your options. Discussing your cancer surgery with a plastic surgeon before undergoing mastectomy is crucial, because the proposed cancer removal surgery may significantly affect the choices and the results of any type of breast reconstruction.
When to Consider Breast Reconstruction
- If you think reconstruction will give you a sense of psychological well being or a feeling of “wholeness”
- To help restore your feelings of femininity and confidence in your appearance
- To improve symmetry if only one of your breasts is affected
- To allow you to wear low-cut necklines and normal swimwear
If one breast is reconstructed, a breast lift, breast reduction, or breast augmentation may be recommended for the opposite breast to improve symmetry.
- You will not have to cope with wearing external breast forms or pads.
- Reconstruction will help restore a sense of wholeness.
- It can help you feel more confident about how you look.
- Breast reconstruction involves additional surgery which may require several stages.
- A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation and feel as the breast it replaces.
- Breast reconstruction may involve additional costs. However, note that in New York State breast reconstruction is an insurance-covered procedure, including management of the opposite breast.
These are the three top pros and cons to weigh when considering breast reconstruction. If you wish to focus on what is unique to you, please consult with your aesthetic plastic surgeon.
Am I a good candidate for a breast reconstruction?
The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider breast reconstruction:
- Results are best if you are not overweight (body mass index is under 30).
- You should not have blood-flow (circulation) problems or other serious health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Diabetes and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma, increase the risk of wound healing problems and infections. Clotting disorders may increase the risks of breast reconstruction using flaps, and bleeding disorders and agents used to prevent blood clots increase the rate of postoperative bleeding.
- Smoking interferes with blood flow and can cause problems after surgery, delay healing and lead to larger scars.
- Radiation therapy significantly affects the timing and even the type of breast reconstruction you will undergo. It delays wound healing and can cause the skin to darken and tighten. Reconstruction, which may be delayed for months after radiation, may include the use of your own tissue to help replace some affected skin.
- Chemotherapy following mastectomy can also affect the timing of your reconstruction.
- Previous surgical history, past medical history and coexisting illnesses are factors in determining whether this surgery is suitable for you.
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.