How Soon Can I Get Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy?

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How Soon Can I Get Breast Reconstruction After Mastectomy?

Planning For Reconstruction After A Mastectomy

Breast cancer is a serious diagnosis that’s understandably frightening for any woman. Thankfully, if caught early, many people make full recoveries. Sometimes a mastectomy or lumpectomy is required to remove the cancer. With a mastectomy, the breast tissue may be completely removed, while a lumpectomy only removes potentially cancerous tissue. Many individuals opt for breast reconstruction surgery after the removal to restore body image and improve self-esteem.

When to get reconstruction

Eager to get the breasts reconstructed as soon as possible? Some patients undergoing mastectomies can choose to have what’s known as an immediate reconstruction. During the initial procedure, the breast tissue is removed, and then immediately after, plastic surgeons work to insert replacements using either tissue from another part of the body or a breast implant. However, not all women undergoing a mastectomy are good candidates for immediate reconstruction.

Why some people wait

While immediately rebuilding the breasts is possible, some people may need to wait for reconstruction. In some cases, cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, must be continued after the mastectomy. Beyond the physical and psychological toll cancer treatments can take on an individual, there are also practical reasons to wait before undergoing breast reconstruction. In particular, radiation therapy has been known to change the color, texture, and appearance of the breasts. Likewise, many people notice that breast volume is lost during treatment. Additionally, depending on the severity of the cancer and whether or not the cancerous cells spread to other regions like the lymph nodes, additional treatments may be necessary. Another concern is that reconstructed breasts can sometimes inhibit treatment effectiveness.

Innovations in reconstruction

Many options are available to preserve breast tissue, even if a woman must wait because of ongoing treatments. For example, delayed-immediate reconstruction relies on a spacer or placeholder implant to maintain the shape of the breast and the skin. The spacer can be left anywhere from a few weeks to several months as a patient continues to undergo analysis and treatments.

Understanding what to expect

The most important task a woman with breast cancer should prioritize is beating the disease and recovering. However, wanting to look good again is equally important. Depending on the severity of a woman’s cancer, as well as if reconstruction is even desired, some people can undergo a mastectomy and breast reconstruction simultaneously. Other individuals may need to wait. To make an informed decision, consider speaking with an oncologist and a board-certified plastic surgeon experienced in breast reconstruction.

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