A woman who has breast cancer surgery might want to have an additional surgical procedure to rebuild her breast’s shape and appearance. This is known as breast reconstruction. The surgery aims to restore one or both breasts to near normal shape, symmetry, and size after removing the breast or a lump in it. Breast reconstruction can also be performed to treat congenital anomalies of the breast.
When to Have Breast Reconstruction?
Breast reconstruction generally involves many procedures carried out in stages. When discussing options, your surgeon will consider the type as well as the stage of your cancer. He or she will also take into account other treatments you might need and your preferences. Breast reconstruction can be performed at the same time as breast cancer surgery or after your cancer surgery.
Immediate Reconstruction. This type of reconstruction happens at the same time as a mastectomy. Once your breast or a part of it is removed, it will be reconstructed with a few options. Your surgeon may use an artificial implant or tissue from another part of your body or both to restore your breast’s shape and appearance. Immediate reconstruction offers one less surgery and potentially better-looking results. This type of breast reconstruction may also mean that you will have a longer total surgery time. It also has a higher risk of complications compared to delayed reconstruction.
Delayed Reconstruction. Not all patients are comfortable deciding immediately about reconstruction after cancer surgery. Delayed reconstruction may start several months or a few years following the first operation. You may opt to delay the reconstruction if you need more time to think about your options. It can also be an option if you prefer to recover from one procedure before going under the knife again. Delayed reconstruction may also be considered by patients who are having radiation therapy, need chemotherapy, or if they’ve had reconstruction before. Others delay it because they have more risk factors for complications or have other things going on in their lives, such as a demanding job or young children to care for. Delayed reconstruction may leave a more extensive scar on the reconstructed breast. You will also spend some time after the cancer surgery with no breast. You can wear a false breast, though.
Tips to Prepare for a Breast Reconstruction
You will recover faster after the surgery if you make some changes in your lifestyle. It’s best to quit smoking as it can increase your risk of infection. Becoming physically active is also highly advisable, especially if tissue will be taken from your tummy for reconstruction. Just discuss with your specialist before starting any workout program. Also, you may be more likely to develop complications from anesthetics if you’re overweight. Consult with a dietitian if you wish to shed some pounds and maintain a healthy weight before the operation.
Do you want to know more about breast reconstruction, the recovery process, and risks? Contact Alan Matarasso MD, FACS, PC, today in New York, New York, to help you discuss your options. Call our clinic now at (212) 249-7500 to schedule your consultation.