Women battling breast cancer are united in their strength and determination to live cancer free.
Deciding on breast reconstruction is a personal decision. As with all the steps in your journey, understanding your options can help you take control and plan for your best outcome.
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Timing of your reconstruction
Whether or not your reconstruction can be done at the same time as your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction) depends on many factors, such as whether you will be having additional treatment, like radiation, and what type of reconstruction you and your care team have selected.
The procedure can be performed months or even years later (delayed reconstruction).
If you have a unilateral (single breast) mastectomy, your surgeon will discuss recommendations for ensuring the reconstructed breast matches the opposite breast as closely as possible.
This may include making adjustments to the remaining breast.
If you have a double mastectomy, your surgeon will reconstruct both breasts with symmetry in mind.
Under or over the muscle:
Subpectoral (under the muscle) technique
This technique involves placing a breast implant under the muscle. In some cases, this can be done immediately after mastectomy.
If you have minimal breast tissue, your surgeon may recommend placing a tissue expander under your skin and chest muscle before placing an implant. A tissue expander is like a balloon, which can be inflated to stretch the skin and muscle over several months, making room for your implant.
Under or over the muscle:
Prepectoral (over the muscle) technique
This technique allows for placement of a tissue expander or silicone breast implant over the chest muscle (prepectorally).
Reconstruction using autologous tissue (“flap” reconstruction)
In this procedure, your surgeon uses tissue (a “flap”) from another part of your body, such as your belly or buttocks, to rebuild the breast.
There are many types of autologous reconstruction procedures to discuss with your surgeon.
Know your rights
If you have health insurance that covers a mastectomy, the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 requires your insurance company to also cover surgery to the unaffected breast for a symmetrical outcome.
Rely on your support team
You may feel overwhelmed with information or rushed to make decisions, so it’s important to include your breast surgeon and plastic surgeon from the start. Working together, they can create a treatment and breast reconstruction plan to support your long-term goals.
Download a short discussion guide to use when you talk to your breast surgeon
Download a short discussion guide to use when you talk to your plastic surgeon
Your team of surgeons, nurses, other healthcare professionals, and your loved ones are with you on this journey
Arm yourself, trust yourself, speak for yourself—and rely on the support you need to complete your journey from breast cancer patient to breast cancer survivor.
about products that may be a part of your breast reconstruction process.