If you are planning to have a mastectomy, you may want to consider having breast reconstructive surgery. This is a very personal decision, based on your medical condition and personal preferences. At Mount Sinai, we are here to help you think through the issues involved. As expert plastic surgeons specializing in breast reconstruction, we can perform the type of operation that is right for you.
Some of the issues that we find women most often struggle with are whether to have reconstruction, when to have it, and what type to have. Our expert surgeons are here to carefully help guide you through this decision-making process.
The first thing to decide is whether you want to have breast reconstruction - either the breast was removed to treat cancer or as a preventative measure. Some women choose reconstruction, others opt to wear a prosthesis, and still other women prefer to take no further action after the breast removal.
You may choose reconstruction to look balanced in clothing, to feel comfortable with your body shape, or to avoid wearing a prosthesis or breast form. You may, like some women, take pride in opting for no type of reconstruction or prosthetic-use. You may, like still other women, feel more comfortable with breasts that look more like they did pre-mastectomy.
Our breast surgeons will listen to your concerns and needs and are qualified to help you navigate your many options.
Timing of Reconstruction
If you do decide to have breast reconstruction, the next question is whether you want to do it immediately after your mastectomy (if medically possible) or whether you want to wait. Some women feel that immediate reconstruction will help them feel better about their bodies and improve their self-confidence. Or you may prefer to give your body time to heal from the mastectomy, and have the reconstruction procedure done later.
There are valid reasons for each option. However, immediate reconstruction means fewer surgical procedures and, often, only one set of surgical scars and one timeframe for combined healing. In addition, if you choose immediate reconstruction, your remaining breast skin remains stretched to the size and shape of your original breast, which may make the process easier.
Type of Reconstruction
If you plan to have breast reconstruction, you will need to decide whether you want to use implants or your body’s own tissue to re-form the breast. There are pros and cons to each, in terms of length of procedure, need for follow-up, and other issues. Some of the issues you might want to think about in choosing your reconstruction procedure include:
- Your overall health
- The size and location of your tumor
- Your breast size and any changes you might want to make to that size
- Other medical and/or surgical treatments you might need
- Your body shape, such as having enough body fat for a flap procedure
- Speed of recovery from the procedure