You may have had or are about to have a mastectomy – by choice or for medical necessity. If so, your doctor has likely told you about options to rebuild your breast or breasts -- a surgery called breast reconstruction. Breast reconstruction takes place during or after mastectomy, and in some cases, lumpectomy. During reconstruction, a plastic surgeon creates a breast shape using an implant, tissue from another place on your body, or both.
Whatever your age, marital status, sexual activity or orientation, you can't predict how you will react to losing a breast. It’s very normal to feel anxious, uncertain, sad, and mournful about giving up a part of your body that was one of the hallmarks of becoming a woman: a significant part of your sexuality, what made you look good in clothes, how you fed your babies. No one can ever take that legacy away from you. Moving forward, you now have the opportunity to shape and determine what you want to have happen next. But first you must do some careful thinking and delving into your feelings in order to figure out what is best for you. In this section, we’ll talk you through each of the reconstruction techniques, what’s involved, and any risks.
Asking yourself some questions can help you start to think about what type of reconstruction you want -- if you want reconstruction at all:
- How important is rebuilding your breast to you?
- Can you live with a breast form that you take off and put on?
- Do you need breast reconstruction to feel whole again?
- Are you OK with having more surgery for breast reconstruction after mastectomy or lumpectomy?
It's also important to know that while breast reconstruction rebuilds the shape of the breast, it doesn't restore sensation to the breast or the nipple. Over time, the skin over the reconstructed breast can become more sensitive to touch, but it won't be exactly the same as it was before surgery.
This section of Breastcancer.org helps you understand your options AND sort through the medical and personal issues you should consider.
In this section:
- Is Breast Reconstruction Right for You?
- Prosthetics: An Alternative to Reconstruction
- When Is Breast Reconstruction Done?
- Types of Breast Reconstruction
- Questions to Ask Your Surgeon About Breast Reconstruction
- Satisfaction with Your Results
The medical experts for Reconstruction are:
- Robert Allen, M.D., plastic surgeon, founder of The Center for Microsurgical Breast Reconstruction and the Group for the Advancement of Breast Reconstruction; clinical professor of plastic surgery at NYU Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina, and LSU Health Sciences Center
- Steven J. Kronowitz, M.D., F.A.C.S., associate professor of plastic surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
- Marisa Weiss, M.D., breast radiation oncologist, Thomas Jefferson University Health System