Women with a new diagnosis of breast cancer or who have already had their breast removed often consider reconstruction. Breast reconstruction is one of the most rewarding surgical procedures available and can often help a woman move beyond her cancer and the body changes of cancer surgery.
Breast reconstruction strives to create a breast that is close in countour, position and feel to a natural breast. Surgery involves the placement of an adjustable tissue expander or the use of tummy or back tissue to replace tissues removed during breast cancer surgery. After the initial surgery, reconstruction involves office visits or further minor procedures to modify or complete the reconstruction.
Reconstruction has no known effect on cancer recurrence or detection, and does not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Post-mastectomy reconstruction can improve appearance and self-confidence -- but keep in mind that the desired result is improvement, not perfection. Federal law requires that all insurance companies cover breast reconstruction.
Most patients experience moderate discomfort relieved with prescription medications. A drain is used to prevent fluid accumulation and this is removed in about one week. You may feel tired and sore for several weeks and it often takes 4 to 6 weeks to be back to full, unrestricted activity.
A breast matching the volume and upper contour of your natural breast is the desired result. Your reconstructed breast may feel firmer and look rounder or flatter than your natural breast. It may not exactly match or have the same contour as your opposite breast. These differences will be apparent primarily to you. For most mastectomy patients, breast reconstruction dramatically improves both appearance and quality of life.
Breast reconstruction is common and very safe, but no surgery is without potential problems. These are specific to the type of reconstruction performed. They are generally minor, but rarely, more significant problems can occur and these can be reviewed on the link below.
Copy adapted from the joint ASPS and PSEF website.