After Mastectomy, Few Women Referred to Plastic Surgeons to Discuss Reconstruction Options

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Reconstruction after breast cancer surgery (mastectomy or lumpectomy) is an important option to consider. The reasons for breast reconstruction vary with lifestyle, occupation, and personality. About 75% of women who have mastectomies go on to have surgical reconstruction of one or both breasts.

A study suggests that many women aren't referred to a plastic surgeon after breast cancer surgery.

If you've had a breast removed or are about to have one removed, it's important to talk to your doctor about breast reconstruction. If you had a lump removed that left you feeling out of balance, you also might want to talk to your doctor about reconstruction. You may decide not to have reconstruction, but it's a good idea to consider all your options. If your surgeon doesn’t bring up reconstruction, ask for more information and a referral.

There are several things to consider when evaulating your options for breast reconstruction:

  • Timing. The stage of the breast cancer affects when reconstruction should be done. For example, if the cancer is early stage, small, and hasn't spread to the lymph nodes, reconstruction may be able to be done at the same time as surgery.
  • Type of reconstruction. There are choices in breast reconstruction. Saline or silicon gel implants are one option. Tissue transplanted from your own back, belly, or buttocks can also be used to fashion a new breast.

For more information, visit the breastcancer.org Reconstruction Section.

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