Breast Reconstruction Candidates
Most breast cancer survivors who have had a complete or partial mastectomy (removal of all or some of the breast tissue and nipple) are candidates for breast reconstruction.
If you have had, or will need radiation therapy to the breast, it may influence the type of reconstruction, and when you can have it. Some patients will need chemotherapy after their mastectomy, and this too can affect the timing of your reconstruction.
While breast reconstruction is considered elective surgery, undergoing breast reconstruction can have profound emotional and practical benefits.
It is also important to keep in mind that breast reconstruction does not interfere with the treatment of breast cancer or surveillance for recurrence. The decision to have breast reconstruction is a personal one, to be made by you and your loved ones. It is important to know that not all patients are candidates for all types of reconstruction.
The type of reconstruction you undergo will be decided by you and your surgeon, depending on your particular needs, anatomy and previous treatments.
Immediate vs. Delayed Breast Reconstruction
Reconstruction can be either immediate (at the same time as the mastectomy), or delayed (at a later time). This decision may be dictated by the characteristic and stage of the breast cancer, and will be made together with your breast surgeon. In many cases, immediate reconstruction is a reasonable and safe option.
Immediate reconstruction has been shown to be a safe option for many women. In this type of reconstruction, the breast mound creation is done at the same time as the mastectomy. This can help minimize the negative effect that a mastectomy can have on body image and self-esteem. Immediate reconstruction also reduces the number of anesthetics required to complete the reconstruction. If you are interested in beginning reconstruction at the time of mastectomy, you must ask your breast surgeon to make a referral for you to see an ASPS plastic surgeon.
Delayed reconstruction is performed several months or even years after the mastectomy after other cancer treatments are finished. Generally surgeons prefer to wait a minimum of six to nine months following the completion of radiation therapy to allow time for the chest skin to heal before performing breast reconstruction.