Breast cancer is a disease that affects the body in many ways. Cancer itself can be devastating, but treatment and recovery are also difficult. After chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, many women find themselves feeling self-conscious about their bodies. Fortunately, there are ways to feel better about yourself and your body post-cancer treatment. This article will cover what breast reconstruction is, types of breast reconstruction procedures, and how it can improve your life after breast cancer treatment.

Let’s get started!

What Is Breast Reconstruction?

Breast reconstruction is a surgical procedure that uses tissue from another part of the body (tissue flap reconstruction), or an implant, to rebuild the breast. It may be done after (delayed reconstruction) a mastectomy, which is surgery to remove all or part of the breast.

The goal of this proceedure is to create a new breast that looks and feels as much as the original one did before cancer treatment.

Types of Breast Reconstruction Procedures

When you have breast cancer and must have a mastectomy, there are many options for breast reconstruction. You may choose to have implants, a tissue (flap) procedure.

Implant Reconstruction

In an implant procedure, the surgeon places silicone or saline implants under the pectoralis major muscle to create a new breast mound. The implants can be placed under either one or both sides of the muscle, depending on the patient’s wishes and needs.

Flap Breast Reconstruction

Flap breast reconstruction involves moving tissue from another part of your body to create new breast tissue. This type of surgery is usually done if you have had a mastectomy (losing all or part of one or both breasts) and want to regain some semblance of normalcy in your appearance.

There are four types of flap reconstructions:

  • DIEP flap
  • TUG flap
  • DIEP flap
  • Latissimus dorsi flap

Tips When Choosing Which Type of Breast Reconstruction to Have

Consider the following when choosing a breast reconstruction method:

  • Make sure you have a surgeon who specializes in this proceedure
  • Cost
  • Think about the size, shape, and placement of your reconstructed breasts
  • Consider how much time you have to recover from the surgery and what kind of scars you’re willing to have on your chest
  • Appearance and feelings about your body
  • Physical activity post-surgery

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon About Breast Reconstruction

After breast cancer, you may have to decide whether or not to have this proceedure. It’s a big decision that requires careful consideration of your options and the potential consequences of each choice.

Here are some questions to ask your surgeon before deciding on a course of action:

  • How long will the surgery take?
  • What are the risks and benefits associated with this procedure?
    • Do I need a flap repair? If so, what kind of flap repair will be used? How long does it take to perform and how long does it last?
    • What size implant do you recommend for me and what are the pros and cons of each size?
    • Would it be possible for me to get an MRI before surgery so that we can determine if there’s any residual tumor in my body?

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Is Breast Reconstruction?

    Breast reconstruction is a surgical process that restores your breasts after cancer surgery. The procedure can be done immediately after breast cancer surgery or later if you’ve had a mastectomy and radiation treatment.

    Who Is a Candidate for Breast Reconstruction?

    If you’re considering this proceedure after a mastectomy, you may be wondering if you’re a good candidate. In general, you’re a good candidate if:

    • You have undergone a mastectomy (choose your procedure)
    • You have adequate skin and muscle tissue on the chest wall to reconstruct the breasts
    • You are fully recovered from surgery and any other treatments for cancer (i.e., chemotherapy)
    • You have realistic expectations

    How Much Does Breast Reconstruction Cost?

    Breast reconstruction surgery costs depend on many different factors, including where you live, where you get your surgery done, and whether or not you have insurance coverage for this type of procedure.

    Will I Have Scars?

    Yes, but they’ll be hidden in your breast tissue. If you’re concerned about them, you can always get a scar revision done later on if necessary (though this isn’t usually necessary).

    Can I Have Nipple Sensitivity Post-surgery?

    Yes! You should be able to feel sensations in your nipples after your surgery has healed completely, but it may take some time for that feeling to return fully.

    Will I Feel Pain?

    You may experience some discomfort after surgery, but it should go away quickly. You may also have some swelling at first that will gradually improve over time.

    Do I Need Breast Reconstruction After Cancer?

    While you may be thinking about it, the decision to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is a personal one.

    If you’re not sure whether you should get this proceedure, talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.