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Making the Decision to Have Breast Reconstructive After a Mastectomy for Breast Cancer

The decision to have breast reconstruction is a very personal one. It depends a lot on how you think you will feel after a mastectomy. If you think you would feel uncomfortable with a flat chest or wearing a false breast, called a prosthesis, you may want to consider breast reconstruction. If you don’t want to have any more procedures, you may not want to do it. Breast reconstructive surgery can be done at the time of your mastectomy. Or you can schedule it for a later date. You may need more than one operation to complete the reconstruction.

Decided to have breast reconstruction? Here are some things to keep in mind about the best time to schedule it:

  • Your emotional and psychological well-being. Some experts think that waking up from a mastectomy with the reconstruction already done is less traumatic than waking up without a breast.

  • Any other treatments you are having. If you’re having radiation after your surgery, you may need to postpone breast reconstruction. Radiation to the reconstructed breast can increase the chance of complications. 

  • Recovery time. Having reconstructive surgery at the same time as your mastectomy may mean you’ll recover faster.

  • The condition of your skin. If your skin isn’t ready for the stretching that goes on during reconstruction, you may need to have the procedure later on. For example, the skin of women who smoke or who have diabetes may need extra healing time before reconstruction.

If you’re thinking of having breast reconstruction, talk with your doctor about these and other issues before you have your mastectomy. Your doctor can tell you whether reconstruction is an option for you and, if it is, what type of reconstructive surgery might work best for you.