Breast reconstruction is usually performed following mastectomy for breast cancer, however, there is an increasing number of women who are choosing mastectomy to reduce the risk of them developing cancer in the future. Breast reconstruction can also be performed following wide local excision of a breast cancer, rather than full mastectomy. For whatever reason, your first step to having this procedure would be to consult with a plastic surgeon, preferably one who specialises in breast reconstruction. Then, you and your surgeon can work together to plan your surgery and give you the best possible results.
If you are uncomfortable with breast reconstruction, there are alternatives. For those who have had a mastectomy, there are external (prosthesis) breast forms that can be worn inside your bra. They can be custom made in any size or shape and with many different materials, such as foam, cotton and silicone.
If you decide to go ahead with breast reconstruction, there are different types that can be done depending on your medical state, breast shape and size, lifestyle, goals and health. The procedure can be accomplished with a breast implant, your own tissues or a combination of both. If you were to use your own tissue, it is a section of skin, muscle and fat that would most likely be removed from your stomach or your back, placed on your chest, and shaped into a new breast.
If you choose, you may have your breast re-built at the time of the mastectomy. After the general surgeon performs the mastectomy, the plastic surgeon will immediately perform the reconstruction. Some prefer this one-stage type of surgery. If you do not prefer the one-stage, you can wait weeks to years after the mastectomy. An advantage to immediate reconstruction is that more of the skin can be saved and the cosmetic results can be better, but there could be a higher risk of complications and longer recuperative time. An immediate reconstruction is often not recommended if radiotherapy is anticipated. An advantage to delaying your reconstruction is more time to consider your options and it may be the technique of choice for those requiring radiotherapy after the mastectomy.