Breast reconstruction is performed after the breast has been removed or distorted due to breast cancer treatment or as another disease. The goal is to rebuild a natural looking breast with symmetry to the other breast. Depending on the circumstances, breast reconstruction can be performed immediately after mastectomy or a delayed procedure, anywhere from several weeks to years following mastectomy. Today, new surgical techniques give plastic surgeons the tools to create a breast that closely looks and feels like a natural breast. With the rising awareness of these modern advances, more breast cancer patients are a candidate for reconstruction. Breast reconstruction typically requires more than one operative procedure, with additional surgeries to optimize symmetry or rebuild a nipple areolar complex.
The procedure has no known effect on the recurrence of cancer. If your oncologist should find a new tumor during your regular follow-up visits, your reconstruction should not interfere with either chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Breast reconstruction is usually performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. There are several different methods of breast reconstruction, although the three most commonly employed techniques include expander/ implant reconstruction, Iatissimus flap reconstruction, and TRAM flap reconstruction. Consultation is necessary to determine which method best meets individual patient needs.
Sometimes the procedure is performed on the remaining breast after a mastectomy on the other side. Your surgeon may recommend breast reduction, breast lift or breast augmentation to help achieve symmetry with a reconstructed breast.