Breast reconstruction is achieved through several plastic surgery techniques that attempt to restore a breast to near normal shape, appearance and size. Following a mastectomy and depending on the individual patient’s circumstances – such as whether radiation therapy is required as a part of the treatment protocol – saline-filled or silicone gel implants or tissue from other areas of the body (also known as an “autologous reconstruction”) – and sometimes a combination of the two – may be used.
Nipple and Areola Reconstruction is often required, as well, and can be performed alongside or following breast reconstruction.
Many factors should be considered when deciding on breast reconstruction following a mastectomy. There are a wide range of variables based on your individual circumstances and preferences. The best way to make an informed, thoughtful choice about breast reconstruction is by working with the members of your health care team. Learn as much as you can about your options, sort through all the details, and decide what’s right for you.
Because breast reconstruction is an optional procedure and done for personal reasons, it’s important to carefully consider your preferences when deciding whether to have the surgery. For example, age is a consideration for many women. Younger women tend to have reconstruction after mastectomy more often than women who are older. Activity is also an issue that many women take into account. If you are active and enjoy hobbies like running, swimming or biking, breast reconstruction may be a better fit for your lifestyle than a prosthesis.
In addition, breast size may be a consideration. If you have large breasts, it may be difficult for reconstruction to match your other breast. Some women in this situation opt to have surgery on both breasts, so the size is comparable on both sides. The size and shape of your breasts after surgery depends heavily on their appearance prior to reconstruction. Some breast shapes are easier to reconstruct than others.
These are just a few examples of the many factors you need to consider before having breast reconstruction. You don’t have to figure it out by yourself. Consult with your doctor about resources that are available to help you learn more. Many healthcare facilities have professionals who specialize in educating women about breast reconstruction.