Breast reconstruction following breast cancer treatment – Mayo Clinic

It’s hard to know how you will feel having some or all of your breasts removed. It’s normal to feel sad, angry and anxious about these changes to your body. You may wish to consider breast reconstruction which is when a plastic surgeon rebuilds the shape of your breast. The best timing and method of reconstruction for you depends on your medical and surgical history, breast size, personal preference lifestyle and treatment plan. If you smoke or have diabetes you may not be able to have breast reconstruction surgery. If you are thinking about breast reconstruction, talk to your plastic surgeon before your surgery. Though reconstruction is sometimes done at the same time as a mastectomy, you can still choose to have it later. It does take longer to heal and recover if you have breast reconstruction at the same time as the mastectomy. Often, more than one surgery is needed to achieve the final breast shape. Some women choose not to have breast reconstruction. If you want the look of a natural breast, but don’t want extra surgery you can use a breast-shaped insert called a prosthesis worn under your clothes. Breast reconstruction is achieved by one of two methods; Using either an implant made of silicone or saline, or tissue from another part of your body, most often from your stomach area. In some cases, both the implant and tissue may be used together. There are two common ways to reconstruct a breast using an implant. The first way uses a balloon-like device to help stretch your skin to make room for the implant. This is placed between your skin and chest wall during surgery. Over the next few weeks it is slowly filled to stretch the skin and create room for the permanent implant. Another surgery is needed to remove the balloon and insert the final implant. The second way places the implant between the skin and chest at the time of the first surgery without using a balloon first. Breast reconstruction using your own tissue is called autologous or flap reconstruction. It is a longer and more complex surgery than the one done using an implant. Since tissue is removed from another part of your body, it raises the chance of infection or bleeding. You may have some numbness in the spot where the tissue was removed. There is also a chance that the tissue flap will not get enough blood supply to survive after its move to your breast. Whether to have a breast rebuilt as a personal choice. You might find it helpful to hear from other women who have been in your position. Think about how breast cancer surgery might affect how you look and feel. Your care team can help you make the choice that best fits your life.

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