Life After a Mastectomy: Your Breast Reconstruction Options

Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 8:12am
Associate Professor of Oncology, Department of Head and Neck Surgery/Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For women whose breast cancer treatment includes a mastectomy, surgical breast reconstruction can be key to not just their physical recovery, but emotional health as well. Losing a breast may drastically change a patient’s body image, and reconstruction helps some women feel “normal” again.

But for a patient who is already dealing with the difficulties of a cancer diagnosis, treatment, and surgery to remove the breast, considering reconstruction options can be daunting. At Roswell Park, we will work with you at every step of the way to help you understand your options for reconstructive surgery and ensure you are comfortable and happy with each decision.

The first thing to consider is the timing of breast reconstruction surgery. For some patients, reconstructing the breast soon after completion of treatment is their best option. Others choose to wait for a longer period of time or opt for a combination of immediate and delayed surgery.

Another aspect of reconstruction to consider is the type of surgery. A variety of options are available for most patients, depending on their needs—from a series of smaller interventions to a larger procedure that may be considered more invasive. The patient should also work with their doctor to decide whether they want to use only their own tissue to recreate the breast, or if using tissue expanders or implants will give them the best outcome.

There are a number of other factors that contribute to a patient’s breast reconstruction options, including their overall health status, whether they must continue other treatments (such as chemotherapy or radiation) after their mastectomy, and the kind of treatment they had before surgery.

This process may seem complicated, but our team is here to walk you through each option and help you make the health decisions that are right for you. Reconstruction usually involves at least three procedures that can take up to 6 to 12 months, and we often develop an extensive relationship with our patients and their families during this time. Remember, our entire team—from plastic surgeons to breast oncologists and social workers—works together toward our shared goal of your complete and successful recovery.

If you have questions, or to seek a consultation or second opinion, please contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355). You may also download our tip sheet about Breast Reconstructive Surgery.