What is Breast Reconstruction? Breast reconstruction is a type of surgery for women who have had a masectomy or breast removed. This type of reconstructive surgery rebuilds the breast so that it is about the same size and shape as it was before. The nipple and areola (the darker area around the nipple) can also be added.
Why have Breast Reconstruction? Women choose breast reconstruction for many reasons:
- to make their breasts look balanced
- to permanently regain their breast contour
- to avoid using an external prosthesis (form that fits into the bra)
Who is a good candidate? Most women who have had a mastectomy can have breast reconstruction. Women who are considering post mastectomy breast reconstruction should be in good general health and be emotionally ready to undergo additional surgery. It is important to consult with your doctor to determine your eligibility, as well as the technique that is best suited to you. Typically, your doctor will want to be certain that your cancer has been entirely eliminated by the mastectomy and/or radiation therapy before proceeding with reconstruction.
Types of Breast Reconstruction There are different types of operations that can be done to reconstruct your breast. You can have a newly shaped breast with the use of a breast implant, your own tissue flap, or a combination of the two. Implants involve stretching the skin with a special tissue expander, then inserting a saline (salt water) implant. A tissue flap is a section of your own skin, fat, and muscle which is moved from your tummy, back, or other area of your body to create a breast mound to reconstruct the breast. You can decide if you want to have your nipple and areola (the dark area around the nipple) reconstructed. Nipple and areola reconstructions are optional and usually the final phase of breast reconstruction. This is a separate surgery that is done to make the reconstructed breast look more like the original breast.